Crystal structure of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated Csn2 protein revealed Ca2+-dependent double-stranded DNA binding activity.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Biol Chem, Volume 286, Issue 35, p.30759-68 (2011)


Amino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, Cloning, Molecular, Crystallography, X-Ray, DNA, DNA-Binding Proteins, Enterococcus faecalis, Models, Genetic, Models, Molecular, Molecular Conformation, Molecular Sequence Data, Multigene Family, Protein Binding, Protein Structure, Quaternary, Protein Structure, Tertiary, RNA Interference, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


<p>Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and their associated protein genes (cas genes) are widespread in bacteria and archaea. They form a line of RNA-based immunity to eradicate invading bacteriophages and malicious plasmids. A key molecular event during this process is the acquisition of new spacers into the CRISPR loci to guide the selective degradation of the matching foreign genetic elements. Csn2 is a Nmeni subtype-specific cas gene required for new spacer acquisition. Here we characterize the Enterococcus faecalis Csn2 protein as a double-stranded (ds-) DNA-binding protein and report its 2.7 Å tetrameric ring structure. The inner circle of the Csn2 tetrameric ring is ∼26 Å wide and populated with conserved lysine residues poised for nonspecific interactions with ds-DNA. Each Csn2 protomer contains an α/β domain and an α-helical domain; significant hinge motion was observed between these two domains. Ca(2+) was located at strategic positions in the oligomerization interface. We further showed that removal of Ca(2+) ions altered the oligomerization state of Csn2, which in turn severely decreased its affinity for ds-DNA. In summary, our results provided the first insight into the function of the Csn2 protein in CRISPR adaptation by revealing that it is a ds-DNA-binding protein functioning at the quaternary structure level and regulated by Ca(2+) ions.</p>