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Mechanism of Acquired Immunity in Bacteria

Jennifer Doudna
University of California - Berkeley
Start date
End date
Bacteria use DNA sequences called CRISPRs, together with CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins, to protect themselves from viral infections. These immune systems enable microbes to remember, detect and destroy viruses using programmable proteins that can be directed to attack any virus. The project goals are to determine how these immune systems function and to train students who will become future educators and scientific researchers.

Understanding how CRISPR systems are able to target and destroy foreign nucleic acids will provide deep insight into the diverse mechanisms of RNA-controlled genome regulation in all domains of life. In addition, mechanistic dissection of CRISPR systems has enabled CRISPR-derived molecular machinery to be harnessed as powerful genome editing technology in mammals, plants and bacteria. Through application of structural biology and enzymology approaches, this project will continue and extend a highly productive NSF-funded research program to determine how bacteria integrate new sequences into CRISPR genomic loci and how the small RNAs derived from CRISPRs are used to recognize and silence foreign genetic elements. The results of this project will both expand fundamental knowledge and provide insights enabling development of new biotechnological tools for gene editing and genome manipulation.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project source
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Project number
Viruses and Prions