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Microbial genome defence pathways: from molecular mechanisms to next-generation molecular tools

Objective

The constant arms race between prokaryotic microbes and their molecular parasites such as viruses, plasmids and transposons has driven the evolution of complex genome defence mechanisms. The CRISPR-Cas defence systems provide adaptive RNA-guided immunity against invasive nucleic acid elements. CRISPR-associated effector nucleases such as Cas9, Cas12a and Cas13 have emerged as powerful tools for precision genome editing, gene expression control and nucleic acid detection. However, these technologies suffer from drawbacks that limit their efficacy and versatility, necessitating the search for additional exploitable molecular activities. Building on our recent structural and biochemical studies, the goal of this project is to investigate the molecular architectures and mechanisms of CRISPR-associated systems and other genome defence mechanisms, aiming not only to shed light on their biological roles but also inform their technological development. Specifically, the proposed studies will examine (i) the molecular basis of cyclic oligoadenylate signalling in type III CRISPR-Cas systems, (ii) the mechanism of transposon-associated type I CRISPR-Cas systems and their putative function in RNA-guided DNA transposition, and (iii) molecular activities associated with recently described non-CRISPR defence systems. Collectively, the proposed studies will advance our understanding of the molecular functions of genome defence mechanisms in shaping the evolution of prokaryotic genomes and make critical contributions to their development as novel genetic engineering tools.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/nucleic acid
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/virology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/genome
  • /medical and health sciences/medical biotechnology/genetic engineering

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-COG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-COG - Consolidator Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITAT ZURICH
Address
Ramistrasse 71
8006 Zurich
Switzerland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 996 525

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITAT ZURICH
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 1 996 525
Address
Ramistrasse 71
8006 Zurich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments