Biophysics of RNA-Guided CRISPR Immunity

  • Luuk Loeff
  • Chirlmin JooEmail author
Part of the Biological and Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering book series (BIOMEDICAL)


Prokaryotes are constantly threatened by a large array of viruses and other mobile genetic elements. The evolutionary arms’ race between these prokaryotes and their invaders has resulted in a wide arsenal of defence mechanisms that enable the host to fight off invaders. Among these defence mechanisms is an adaptive and inheritable immune system that is conveyed through clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) and their CRISPR-associated proteins (Cas). Much of the knowledge on CRISPR-Cas immunity originates from ensemble-averaged measurements. While these assays provide valuable information on the collective behaviour of the population, they mask the molecular dynamics of individual molecules. Single-molecule biophysics has emerged as a powerful tool to visualise the molecular dynamics of single proteins with high spatial and temporal resolution. Here, we review recent advances in single-molecule biophysical approaches to study the molecular mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas immunity.


CRISPR Adaptive Immunity Cascade Cas3 Cas9 Fluorescence Force Spectroscopy Single-molecule 



This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research [Vidi grant 864.14.002 ] and by a European Research Council Starting Grant under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007–2013/ERC grant 309509].


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kavli Institute of Nanoscience and Department of BionanoscienceDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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