The CRISPR revolution
CRISPR has become synonymous with disruptive genome-editing technologies that are revolutionizing basic research, biotechnology, medicine, and agriculture. One critical aspect of CRISPR often overlooked in this fanfare is that it was not invented; instead, CRISPR is naturally part of adaptive immune systems in bacteria and archaea called CRISPR-Cas systems. These systems have proven remarkably diverse and stand in stark contrast to small handful of proteins currently used as technologies. In this talk, I will describe the unique properties of CRISPR-Cas systems and how these properties directly lend to genome editing and many other uses. I will also describe my group’s ongoing efforts to explore the functional diversity of these systems and how they can be harnessed for applications in bacterial strain engineering and programmable-spectrum antimicrobials. Through these advances, we aim to understand the functional diversity of these versatile immune systems and further advance the reach and impact of the ensuing revolutionary technologies.