In a “Breakthrough Article” published on June 18, 2020 in Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), a group of scientists in the Département de Biologie, Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec (Canada) led by Vincent Burrus, PhD, has described how certain conjugative plasmids (that promote mobilization and transfer of antibiotic-resistance genes between bacterial strains and species) evade the degradative mechanisms of CRISPR defense systems. “Breakthrough Articles” at NAR describe studies that solve a long-standing problem in their field or provide exceptional new insight and understanding into an area of research that will clearly motivate and guide new research opportunities and directions. They represent the top papers that NAR receives for publication and are selected by the Editors based on nominations by authors and/or reviewers, and on the subsequent recommendation of the reviewers and editorial board members. This open-access “Breakthrough Article” article is titled “IncC Conjugative Plasmids and SXT/R391 Elements Repair Double-Strand Breaks Caused by CRISPR–Cas During Conjugation.” Antibiotic-resistance genes are mainly transmitted by integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs), and conjugative plasmids, but also by bacteriophages. Although bacteria have evolved defense mechanisms against such invaders (including CRISPR-Cas and Restriction-Modification systems), mobile genetic elements have also evolved diverse strategies to overcome these barriers. In this manuscript, the authors demonstrate that drug resistance-associated Incompatibility group C (IncC) conjugative plasmids and SXT/R391 ICEs are resilient against damage caused by CRISPR-Cas during entry into a new host by conjugation.
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