Selfish genes fight each other with DNA-destroying CRISPR systems

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An illustration of plasmids, small circles of bacterial DNA

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Bacteria host bits of DNA that can replicate and 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 and dismantling the DNA of invading viruses.

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

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