New bacterial defense mechanism of the CRISPR-Cas system uncovered

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When a virus is invading a bacterial cell, a defense mechanism called CRISPR-Cas is activated. (Image: arinarici / iStock)


Researchers led by Martin Jinek of the University of Zurich have found an unprecedented defense mechanism by which bacteria defend themselves against invading viruses. When the bacterial immune system gets overwhelmed, the CRISPR-Cas system produces a chemical signal that activates a second enzyme which helps in degrading the invaders’ genetic material. This process is very similar to an antiviral mechanism of the human innate immune system.

UZH News release