Selfish genes fight each other with DNA-destroying CRISPR systems

An illustration of plasmids, small circles of bacterial DNA


Bacteria host bits of DNA that can replicate spread to other bacteria. Now, researchers have discovered that these “selfish genes” wage war on their rivals using DNA-destroying CRISPR systems.

CRISPR has become famous as a way of editing genes, but in bacteria, CRISPR systems often act as an immune system, targeting dismantling the DNA of invading viruses.

Rafael Pinilla-Redondo at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark his colleagues have shown that some of the self-replicating bits of DNA …

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