Type I-F CRISPR-Cas resistance against virulent phages results in abortive infection and provides population-level immunity

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Watson, Bridget N. J. 
Vercoe, Reuben B. 
Salmond, George P. C. 
Staals, Raymond H. J  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5741-9457

Abstract: Type I CRISPR-Cas systems are abundant and widespread adaptive immune systems in bacteria and can greatly enhance bacterial survival in the face of phage infection. Upon phage infection, some CRISPR-Cas immune responses result in bacterial dormancy or slowed growth, which suggests the outcomes for infected cells may vary between systems. Here we demonstrate that type I CRISPR immunity of Pectobacterium atrosepticum leads to suppression of two unrelated virulent phages, ɸTE and ɸM1. Immunity results in an abortive infection response, where infected cells do not survive, but viral propagation is severely decreased, resulting in population protection due to the reduced phage epidemic. Our findings challenge the view of CRISPR-Cas as a system that protects the individual cell and supports growing evidence of abortive infection by some types of CRISPR-Cas systems.


Funder: Veni grant, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) [016.Veni.171.047 to RHJS] Health Sciences Career Development Award from the University of Otago, NZ

Article, /631/326/1321, /631/326/4041, /631/326/432, article
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Nature Communications
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Nature Publishing Group UK