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Cost and benefits of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats spacer acquisition

Abstract : Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas-mediated immunity in bacteria allows bacterial populations to protect themselves against pathogens. However, it also exposes them to the dangers of auto-immunity by developing protection that targets its own genome. Using a simple model of the coupled dynamics of phage and bacterial populations, we explore how acquisition rates affect the probability of the bacterial colony going extinct. We find that the optimal strategy depends on the initial population sizes of both viruses and bacteria. Additionally, certain combinations of acquisition and dynamical rates and initial population sizes guarantee protection, owing to a dynamical balance between the evolving population sizes, without relying on acquisition of viral spacers. Outside this regime, the high cost of auto-immunity limits the acquisition rate. We discuss these optimal strategies that minimize the probability of the colony going extinct in terms of recent experiments.
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Serena Bradde, Thierry Mora, Aleksandra Walczak. Cost and benefits of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats spacer acquisition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2019, 374 (1772), pp.20180095. ⟨10.1098/rstb.2018.0095⟩. ⟨hal-02136956⟩

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