CRISPR-Cas systems offer an immune mechanism through which prokaryotic hosts can acquire heritable resistance to genetic parasites, including temperate phages. Co-transcriptional DNA and RNA targeting by type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems restricts temperate phage lytic infections while allowing lysogenic infections to be tolerated under conditions where the prophage targets are transcriptionally repressed. However, long-term consequences of this phenomenon have not been explored. Here we show that maintenance of conditionally tolerant type III-A systems can produce fitness costs within populations of Staphylococcus aureus lysogens. The fitness costs depend on the activity of prophage-internal promoters and type III-A Cas nucleases implicated in targeting, can be more severe in double lysogens, and are alleviated by spacer-target mismatches which do not abrogate immunity during the lytic cycle. These findings suggest that persistence of type III-A systems that target endogenous prophages could be enhanced by spacer-target mismatches, particularly among populations that are prone to polylysogenization. CRISPR-Cas systems, such as type III-A CRISPR-Cas, provide an immune mechanism for prokaryotic hosts to resist parasites, including phages. Here, the authors show that maintenance of conditionally tolerant type III-A systems can affect the fitness of Staphylococcus aureus lysogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)