Host-pathogen interactions

Thermus and Pyrococcus Argonautes have been characterised as novel defence systems, revealing their unique property to use DNA guides for DNA interference.

Currently, mesophilic Argonaute variants are being analysed. CRISPR-Cpf1, of the pathogenic bacterium Francisella, has been characterised, establishing its potential as a powerful genome-editing tool. A recent discovery concerns links between the Cas9 of pathogenic bacteria and their virulence.

The finding that guide-free Cas9 may act as a DNA-degrading virulence factor in human cells, reveals a novel strategy of pathogenic bacteria. Moreover, it implies that guide-saturation is crucial for safe application of Cas9 in gene therapy. Molecular details of this unexpected link (guided nucleases) will be studied, in more detail, in the coming years.