Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Candidate Phyla Radiation Roizmanbacteria From Hot Springs Have Novel and Unexpectedly Abundant CRISPR-Cas Systems


The Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR) comprises a huge group of bacteria that have small genomes that rarely encode CRISPR-Cas systems for phage defense. Consequently, questions remain about their mechanisms of phage resistance and the nature of phage that infect them. The compact CRISPR-CasY system (Cas12d) with potential value in genome editing was first discovered in these organisms. Relatively few CasY sequences have been reported to date, and little is known about the function and activity of these systems in the natural environment. Here, we conducted a genome-resolved metagenomic investigation of hot spring microbiomes and recovered CRISPR systems mostly from Roizmanbacteria that involve CasY proteins that are divergent from published sequences. Within population diversity in the spacer set indicates current in situ diversification of most of the loci. In addition to CasY, some Roizmanbacteria genomes also encode large type I-B and/or III-A systems that, based on spacer targeting, are used in phage defense. CRISPR targeting identified three phage represented by complete genomes and a prophage, which are the first reported for bacteria of the Microgenomates superphylum. Interestingly, one phage encodes a Cas4-like protein, a scenario that has been suggested to drive acquisition of self-targeting spacers. Consistent with this, the Roizmanbacteria population that it infects has a CRISPR locus that includes self-targeting spacers and a fragmented CasY gene (fCasY). Despite gene fragmentation, the PAM sequence is the same as that of other CasY reported in this study. Fragmentation of CasY may avoid the lethality of self-targeting spacers. However, the spacers may still have some biological role, possibly in genome regulation. The findings expand our understanding of CasY diversity, and more broadly, CRISPR-Cas systems and phage of CPR bacteria.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View