Metagenomic Discovery of CRISPR-Associated Transposons

James R. Rybarski*, Kuang Hu*, Alexis M. Hill*, Claus O. Wilke, Ilya J. Finkelstein (* co-first authors), PNAS 118 (49) :e2112279118 (2021).
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‘CRISPR-associated Tn7 transposons (CASTs) co-opt cas genes for RNA-guided transposition. CASTs are exceedingly rare in genomic databases; recent surveys have reported Tn7-like transposons that co-opt Type I-F, I-B, and V-K CRISPR effectors. Here, we expand the diversity of reported CAST systems via a bioinformatic search of metagenomic databases. We discover architectures for all known CASTs, including arrangements of the Cascade effectors, target homing modalities, and minimal V-K systems. We also describe families of CASTs that have co-opted the Type I-C and Type IV CRISPR-Cas systems. Our search for non-Tn7 CASTs identifies putative candidates that include a nuclease dead Cas12. These systems shed light on how CRISPR systems have coevolved with transposases and expand the programmable gene-editing toolkit.’