The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (CRISPR/Cas) system is an adaptive immune system present in many archaea and bacteria. CRISPR/Cas systems are incredibly diverse, and there is increasing evidence of CRISPR/Cas systems playing a role in cellular functions distinct from phage immunity. Previously, our laboratory reported one such alternate function in which the type 1-F CRISPR/Cas system of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain UCBPP-PA14 (abbreviated as P. aeruginosa PA14) inhibits both biofilm formation and swarming motility when the bacterium is lysogenized by the bacteriophage DMS3. In this study, we demonstrated that the presence of just the DMS3 protospacer and the protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM) on the P. aeruginosa genome is necessary and sufficient for this CRISPR-dependent loss of these group behaviors, with no requirement of additional DMS3 sequences. We also demonstrated that the interaction of the CRISPR system with the DMS3 protospacer induces expression of SOS-regulated phage-related genes, including the well-characterized pyocin operon, through the activity of the nuclease Cas3 and subsequent RecA activation. Furthermore, our data suggest that expression of the phage-related genes results in bacterial cell death on a surface due to the inability of the CRISPR-engaged strain to downregulate phage-related gene expression, while these phage-related genes have minimal impact on growth and viability under planktonic conditions. Deletion of the phage-related genes restores biofilm formation and swarming motility while still maintaining a functional CRISPR/Cas system, demonstrating that the loss of these group behaviors is an indirect effect of CRISPR self-targeting.
Heussler, Gary E. E.; Cady, Kyle C.; Koeppen, Katja; Bhuju, Sabin; Stanton, Bruce A.; and O’Toole, George A., "Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat-Dependent, Biofilm-Specific Death of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Mediated by Increased Expression of Phage-Related Genes" (2015). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 1323.