Antiviral Type III Crispr signalling via conjugation of STP and AdoMet



CRISPR systems are widespread in the prokaryotic world, providing adaptive immunity against mobile genetic elements (MGE) 1,2. Type III CRISPR systems, with the signature gene cas10, use CRISPR RNA (crRNA) to detect non-self RNA, activating the enzymatic Cas10 subunit to defend the cell against MGE either directly, via the integral HD nuclease domain 3-5 or indirectly, via synthesis of cyclic oligonucleotide (cOA) second messengers to activate diverse ancillary effectors 6-9. A subset of type III CRISPR systems encode an uncharacterised CorA-family membrane protein and an associated NrN family phosphodiesterase predicted to function in antiviral defence. Here, we demonstrate that the CorA associated type III-B CRISPR system from Bacteroides fragilis (BfaCmr) provides immunity against MGE when expressed in E. coli. However, BfaCmr does not synthesise cOA species on activation, instead generating a previously undescribed signalling molecule, SAM-AMP (3’-adenylyl-AdoMet) by conjugating ATP to S-adenosyl methionine via a phosphodiester bond. Once synthesised, SAM-AMP binds to the CorA effector, presumably leading to cell death by disruption of the membrane integrity. SAM-AMP is degraded by CRISPR associated phosphodiesterases or a SAM lyase, providing an “off switch” analogous to cOA specific ring nucleases 10. SAM-AMP thus represents a new class of second messenger for antiviral signalling, which may function in different roles in diverse cellular contexts.
Date made available2023

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