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  1. CRISPR-Cas9 is an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease involved in bacterial adaptive immunity and widely repurposed for genome editing in human cells, animals and plants. In bacteria, RNA molecules that guide Cas9′s activity derive from foreign DNA fragments that are captured and integrated into the host CRISPR genomic locus by the Cas1-Cas2 CRISPR integrase. How cells generate the specific lengths of DNA required for integrase capture is a central unanswered question of type II-A CRISPR-based adaptive immunity. Here, we show that an integrase supercomplex comprising guide RNA and the proteins Cas1, Cas2, Csn2 and Cas9 generates precisely trimmed 30-base pair DNA molecules required for genome integration. The HNH active site of Cas9 catalyzes exonucleolytic DNA trimming by a mechanism that is independent of the guide RNA sequence. These results show that Cas9 possesses a distinct catalytic capacity for generating immunological memory in prokaryotes.
  2. ABSTRACT Fermentation-based chemical production strategies provide a feasible route for the rapid, safe, and sustainable production of a wide variety of important chemical products, ranging from fuels to pharmaceuticals. These strategies have yet to find wide industrial utilization due to their inability to economically compete with traditional extraction and chemical production methods. Here, we engineer for the first time the complex microbial biosynthesis of an anthocyanin plant natural product, starting from sugar. This was accomplished through the development of a synthetic, 4-strain Escherichia coli polyculture collectively expressing 15 exogenous or modified pathway enzymes from diverse plants and other microbes. This synthetic consortium-based approach enables the functional expression and connection of lengthy pathways while effectively managing the accompanying metabolic burden. The de novo production of specific anthocyanin molecules, such as calistephin, has been an elusive metabolic engineering target for over a decade. The utilization of our polyculture strategy affords milligram-per-liter production titers. This study also lays the groundwork for significant advances in strain and process design toward the development of cost-competitive biochemical production hosts through nontraditional methodologies. IMPORTANCE To efficiently express active extensive recombinant pathways with high flux in microbial hosts requires careful balance and allocation of metabolic resources such as ATP,more »reducing equivalents, and malonyl coenzyme A (malonyl-CoA), as well as various other pathway-dependent cofactors and precursors. To address this issue, we report the design, characterization, and implementation of the first synthetic 4-strain polyculture. Division of the overexpression of 15 enzymes and transcription factors over 4 independent strain modules allowed for the division of metabolic burden and for independent strain optimization for module-specific metabolite needs. This study represents the most complex synthetic consortia constructed to date for metabolic engineering applications and provides a new paradigm in metabolic engineering for the reconstitution of extensive metabolic pathways in nonnative hosts.« less
  3. CRISPR-Cas systems are found widely in prokaryotes, where they provide adaptive immunity against virus infection and plasmid transformation. We describe a minimal functional CRISPR-Cas system, comprising a single ~70-kilodalton protein, CasΦ, and a CRISPR array, encoded exclusively in the genomes of huge bacteriophages. CasΦ uses a single active site for both CRISPR RNA (crRNA) processing and crRNA-guided DNA cutting to target foreign nucleic acids. This hypercompact system is active in vitro and in human and plant cells with expanded target recognition capabilities relative to other CRISPR-Cas proteins. Useful for genome editing and DNA detection but with a molecular weight half that of Cas9 and Cas12a genome-editing enzymes, CasΦ offers advantages for cellular delivery that expand the genome editing toolbox.