CRISPR-Cas systems are a highly effective immune mechanism for prokaryotes, providing defense against invading foreign DNA. By definition, all CRISPR-Cas systems have short repeats interspersing their spacers. These repeats play a key role in preventing cleavage of self DNA and in the integration of new spacers. Here we focus on the phenomenon of repeat modularity, namely the unexpectedly high degree of repeat conservation across different systems within a genome or between different species. We hypothesize that modularity can be beneficial for CRISPR-Cas containing organisms, because it facilitates horizontal acquisition of ‘pre-immunized’ CRISPR arrays and allows the utilization of spacers acquired by one system for use by other systems within the same cell.
- horizontal gene transfer
- lateral gene transfer
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology