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Journal of Bacteriology


CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat)-Cas (CRISPR-associated protein) systems are diverse and found in many archaea and bacteria. These systems have mainly been characterized as adaptive immune systems able to protect against invading mobile genetic elements, including viruses. The first step in this protection is acquisition of spacer sequences from the invader DNA and incorporation of those sequences into the CRISPR array, termed CRISPR adaptation. Progress in understanding the mechanisms and requirements of CRISPR adaptation has largely been accomplished using overexpression of cas genes or plasmid loss assays; little work has focused on endogenous CRISPR-acquired immunity from viral predation. Here, we developed a new biofilm-based assay system to enrich for Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains with new spacer acquisition. We used this assay to demonstrate that P. aeruginosa rapidly acquires spacers protective against DMS3vir, an engineered lytic variant of the Mu-like bacteriophage DMS3, through primed CRISPR adaptation from spacers present in the native CRISPR2 array. We found that for the P. aeruginosa type I-F system, the cas1 gene is required for CRISPR adaptation, recG contributes to (but is not required for) primed CRISPR adaptation, recD is dispensable for primed CRISPR adaptation, and finally, the ability of a putative priming spacer to prime can vary considerably depending on the specific sequences of the spacer.