The molecular basis for recognition of 5'-NNNCC-3' PAM and its methylation state by Acidothermus cellulolyticus Cas9.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nat Commun, Volume 11, Issue 1, p.6346 (2020)


Actinobacteria, Bacterial Proteins, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, CRISPR-Associated Protein 9, CRISPR-Cas Systems, Crystallography, X-Ray, Cytosine, DNA, Gene Editing, Genome, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Methylation, Models, Molecular, Protein Conformation, RNA, Guide


<p>Acidothermus cellulolyticus CRISPR-Cas9 (AceCas9) is a thermophilic Type II-C enzyme that has potential genome editing applications in extreme environments. It cleaves DNA with a 5&#39;-NNNCC-3&#39; Protospacer Adjacent Motif (PAM) and is sensitive to its methylation status. To understand the molecular basis for the high specificity of AceCas9 for its PAM, we determined two crystal structures of AceCas9 lacking its HNH domain (AceCas9-ΔHNH) bound with a single guide RNA and DNA substrates, one with the correct and the other with an incorrect PAM. Three residues, Glu1044, Arg1088, Arg1091, form an intricate hydrogen bond network with the first cytosine and the two opposing guanine nucleotides to confer specificity. Methylation of the first but not the second cytosine base abolishes AceCas9 activity, consistent with the observed PAM recognition pattern. The high sensitivity of AceCas9 to the modified cytosine makes it a potential device for detecting epigenomic changes in genomes.</p>

6WBR for the wild type and 6WC0 for the C4T PAM complex