A type III-A CRISPR-Cas system employs degradosome nucleases to ensure robust immunity

Lucy Chou-Zheng, Asma Hatoum-Aslan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CRISPR-Cas systems provide sequence-specific immunity against phages and mobile genetic elements using CRISPR-associated nucleases guided by short CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs). Type III systems exhibit a robust immune response that can lead to the extinction of a phage population, a feat coordinated by a multi-subunit effector complex that destroys invading DNA and RNA. Here, we demonstrate that a model type III system in Staphylococcus epidermidis relies upon the activities of two degradosome-associated nucleases, PNPase and RNase J2, to mount a successful defense. Genetic, molecular, and biochemical analyses reveal that PNPase promotes crRNA maturation, and both nucleases are required for efficient clearance of phage-derived nucleic acids. Furthermore, functional assays show that RNase J2 is essential for immunity against diverse mobile genetic elements originating from plasmid and phage. Altogether, our observations reveal the evolution of a critical collaboration between two nucleic acid degrading machines which ensures cell survival when faced with phage attack.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere45393
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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