CRISPR-based screening of genomic island excision events in bacteria

Kurt Selle, Todd R. Klaenhammer, Rodolphe Barrangou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Genomic analysis of Streptococcus thermophilus revealed that mobile genetic elements (MGEs) likely contributed to gene acquisition and loss during evolutionary adaptation to milk. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated genes (CRISPR-Cas), the adaptive immune system in bacteria, limits genetic diversity by targeting MGEs including bacteriophages, transposons, and plasmids. CRISPR-Cas systems are widespread in streptococci, suggesting that the interplay between CRISPR-Cas systems and MGEs is one of the driving forces governing genome homeostasis in this genus. To investigate the genetic outcomes resulting from CRISPR-Cas targeting of integrated MGEs, in silico prediction revealed four genomic islands without essential genes in lengths from 8 to 102 kbp, totaling 7% of the genome. In this study, the endogenous CRISPR3 type II system was programmed to target the four islands independently through plasmid-based expression of engineered CRISPR arrays. Targeting lacZ within the largest 102-kbp genomic island was lethal to wild-type cells and resulted in a reduction of up to 2.5-log in the surviving population. Genotyping of Lac- survivors revealed variable deletion events between the flanking insertion-sequence elements, all resulting in elimination of the Lac-encoding island. Chimeric insertion sequence footprints were observed at the deletion junctions after targeting all of the four genomic islands, suggesting a common mechanism of deletion via recombination between flanking insertion sequences. These results established that self-targeting CRISPR-Cas systems may direct significant evolution of bacterial genomes on a population level, influencing genome homeostasis and remodeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8076-8081
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 30 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'CRISPR-based screening of genomic island excision events in bacteria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this