Diverse evolutionary roots and mechanistic variations of the CRISPR-Cas systems

Prarthana Mohanraju, Kira S. Makarova, Bernd Zetsche, Feng Zhang, Eugene V. Koonin, John van der Oost*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

267 Citations (Scopus)


Adaptive immunity had been long thought of as an exclusive feature of animals. However, the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas defense system, present in almost half of prokaryotic genomes, proves otherwise. Because of the everlasting parasite-host arms race, CRISPR-Cas has rapidly evolved through horizontal transfer of complete loci or individual modules, resulting in extreme structural and functional diversity. CRISPR-Cas systems are divided into two distinct classes that each consist of three types and multiple subtypes. We discuss recent advances in CRISPR-Cas research that reveal elaborate molecular mechanisms and provide for a plausible scenario of CRISPR-Cas evolution. We also briefly describe the latest developments of a wide range of CRISPR-based applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberaad5147
Number of pages14
Issue number6299
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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