Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37500801
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41564-023-01439-2
Nat Microbiol 2023 Sep; 8(9): 1619-1633
CRISPR-Cas systems defend prokaryotic cells from invasive DNA of viruses, plasmids and other mobile genetic elements. Here, we show using metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and single-cell genomics that CRISPR systems of widespread, uncultivated archaea can also target chromosomal DNA of archaeal episymbionts of the DPANN superphylum. Using meta-omics datasets from Crystal Geyser and Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory, we find that CRISPR spacers of the hosts Candidatus Altiarchaeum crystalense and Ca. A. horonobense, respectively, match putative essential genes in their episymbionts’ genomes of the genus Ca. Huberiarchaeum and that some of these spacers are expressed in situ. Metabolic interaction modelling also reveals complementation between host-episymbiont systems, on the basis of which we propose that episymbionts are either parasitic or mutualistic depending on the genotype of the host. By expanding our analysis to 7,012 archaeal genomes, we suggest that CRISPR-Cas targeting of genomes associated with symbiotic archaea evolved independently in various archaeal lineages.