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Beyond Molecular Scissors: Non-Canonical Functions Of CRISPR-Cas Systems

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The discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems in prokaryotes and their potential for genome engineering has been called the Discovery of the 21st century. However, their endogenous function was initially described as protection against invasive nucleic acid. As we learn more about these systems, we are discovering that ...

The discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems in prokaryotes and their potential for genome engineering has been called the Discovery of the 21st century. However, their endogenous function was initially described as protection against invasive nucleic acid. As we learn more about these systems, we are discovering that their roles in bacteria far exceed protecting the cell against invading nucleic acid.

These machineries have now been implicated in a host of other functions including regulation of transcription, chromosomal segregation and rearrangement, and DNA repair; although the molecular mechanisms for these alternate functions are not yet completely clear. Interestingly, CRISPR-Cas systems have been shown to impact diverse physiological processes including host-pathogen interactions, antibiotic resistance, and other forms of resistance to stresses.

CRISPR-Cas systems also play significant roles in controlling genome content, with important implications. For example, the presence of a CRISPR-Cas locus correlated inversely with acquired antibiotic resistance in Enterococcus faecalis; a mechanism for CRISPR-Cas loss in this species was identified and the data suggested that antibiotic use may inadvertently select for enterococcal strains with compromised genome defense. There is no doubt a great deal to learn about the diverse functions of these exciting systems.

This Research Topic will focus on diverse non-canonical functions of CRISPR-Cas systems including, but not limited to, effects on pathogenicity, contributions to antimicrobial resistance, gene regulation, and horizontal gene transfer. We welcome all types of submissions including new cutting-edge research, opinions/commentaries, and review articles.


Keywords: CRISPR-Cas, Pathogenicity, Virulence, Regulation, CRISPR


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