A ecologia e evolução dos sistemas imune adaptativos microbianos CRISPR-Cas

terça-feira, abril 02, 2019

The ecology and evolution of microbial CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems

Edze R. Westra, Stineke van Houte, Sylvain Gandon and Rachel Whitaker

Published:25 March 2019Article ID:20190101

1. Introduction

Over the past decade, the field of CRISPR-Cas research has received a lot of attention from the scientific community. While initially, this mostly concerned microbiologists who were fascinated by the discovery that some bacteria encode RNA-guided adaptive immune systems, this rapidly spread to other scientific disciplines following the development of groundbreaking molecular biology tools [1] and, more recently, to the public domain where the societal and ethical implications and legislation surrounding CRISPR applications are being debated. Some of the potential CRISPR applications that are currently being explored in the laboratory would involve the release of CRISPR genes into confined or open environments—for example, when CRISPR would be used to protect focal bacterial species against phage infections, when it is applied to suppress the spread of antimicrobial resistance or to control vectors of disease [2– 4]. One component of the debate surrounding the societal impacts of these applications entails an assessment of the potential risks associated with these strategies (e.g. [5– 7]), which requires an understanding of how CRISPR-Cas behaves in an ecological context. In this special issue, we explore this question by examining the evolutionary history of CRISPR-Cas immune systems, where they occur naturally, when they evolve and how this impacts the spread and evolution of other DNA elements. Finally, we return to the question how CRISPR-Cas may be exploited in an ecological context for the benefit of human health, and the ethical challenges that are associated with this.