Diversity of CRISPR-Cas-mediated mechanisms of adaptive immunity in prokaryotes and their application in biotechnology

E. E. Savitskaya, O. S. Musharova, K. V. Severinov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


CRISPR-Cas systems of adaptive immunity in prokaryotes consist of CRISPR arrays (clusters of short repeated genomic DNA fragments separated by unique spacer sequences) and cas (CRISPR-associated) genes that provide cells with resistance against bacteriophages and plasmids containing protospacers, i.e. sequences complementary to CRISPR array spacers. CRISPR-Cas systems are responsible for two different cellular phenomena: CRISPR adaptation and CRISPR interference. CRISPR adaptation is cell genome modification by integration of new spacers that represents a unique case of Lamarckian inheritance. CRISPR interference involves specific recognition of protospacers in foreign DNA followed by introduction of breaks into this DNA and its destruction. According to the mechanisms of action, CRISPR-Cas systems have been subdivided into two classes, five types, and numerous subtypes. The development of techniques based on CRISPR interference mediated by the Type II system Cas9 protein has revolutionized the field of genome editing because it allows selective, efficient, and relatively simple introduction of directed breaks into target DNA loci. However, practical applications of CRISPR-Cas systems are not limited only to genome editing. In this review, we focus on the variety of CRISPR interference and CRISPR adaptation mechanisms and their prospective use in biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-661
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemistry (Moscow)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • cas genes
  • CRISPR adaptation
  • CRISPR array
  • CRISPR interference


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