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      Intervening sequences of regularly spaced prokaryotic repeats derive from foreign genetic elements.

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          Abstract

          Prokaryotes contain short DN repeats known as CRISPR, recognizable by the regular spacing existing between the recurring units. They represent the most widely distributed family of repeats among prokaryotic genomes suggesting a biological function. The origin of the intervening sequences, at present unknown, could provide clues about their biological activities. Here we show that CRISPR spacers derive from preexisting sequences, either chromosomal or within transmissible genetic elements such as bacteriophages and conjugative plasmids. Remarkably, these extrachromosomal elements fail to infect the specific spacer-carrier strain, implying a relationship between CRISPR and immunity against targeted DNA. Bacteriophages and conjugative plasmids are involved in prokaryotic population control, evolution, and pathogenicity. All these biological traits could be influenced by the presence of specific spacers. CRISPR loci can be visualized as mosaics of a repeated unit, separated by sequences at some time present elsewhere in the cell.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          J Mol Evol
          Journal of molecular evolution
          Springer Science and Business Media LLC
          0022-2844
          0022-2844
          Feb 2005
          : 60
          : 2
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Divisón de Microbiología, Departamento de Fisiología, Genética y Microbiología, Universidad de Alicante, Campus de San Vicente, E-03080, Spain. fmojica@ua.es
          Article
          10.1007/s00239-004-0046-3
          15791728
          103f986b-bd92-425e-aa40-e0298e0ef006
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