CRISPR decoys: Competitive inhibitors of CRISPR immunity

Inbal Maniv, Asma Hatoum-Aslan, Luciano A. Marraffini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CRISPR loci consist of an array of short repeats separated by spacer sequences that match the genome of viruses and plasmids that infect prokaryotes. Transcription of the CRISPR array generates small antisense RNAs that mediate immunity against these invaders. In recent years, there has been a notable increase in the investigation of CRISPR immunity, but studies have been restricted to organisms in which genetic manipulations are possible. Therefore, there is a need for the development of simple genetic tools that facilitate the study of this important pathway. Here we describe the use of CRISPR decoys, plasmids containing a non-transcribed repeat-spacer unit that disrupt CRISPR immunity. We show that decoys abrogate immunity against conjugation in S. epidermidis to levels comparable to a CRISPR deletion mutant. This technique can be used to generate full or spacer-specific CRISPR knockdowns in organisms in which decoy plasmids can be introduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-699
Number of pages6
JournalRNA Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Conjugation
  • Genetic interference
  • Immunity
  • Staphylococcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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