CRISPR (/ˈkrɪspər/) is a family of DNA sequences in bacteria. The sequences contain snippets of DNA from viruses that have attacked the bacterium. These snippets are used by the bacterium to detect and destroy DNA from further attacks by similar viruses. These sequences play a key role in a bacterial defence system, and form the basis of a technology known as CRISPR/Cas9 that effectively and specifically changes genes within organisms.
The CRISPR/Cas system is a prokaryotic immune system that confers resistance to foreign genetic elements such as those present within plasmids and phages that provides a form of acquired immunity. RNA harboring the spacer sequence helps Cas proteins recognize and cut exogenous DNA. Other RNA-guided Cas proteins cut foreign RNA. CRISPRs are found in approximately 40% of sequenced bacterial genomes and 90% of sequenced archaea.
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