Takayasu Watanabe*, Masaki Shibasaki, Fumito Maruyama, Tsutomu Sekizaki, Ichiro Nakagawa


The oral bacterial species Porphyromonas gingivalis, a periodontal pathogen, has plastic genomes that may be driven by homologous recombination with exogenous deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that is incorporated by natural transformation and conjugation. However, bacteriophages and plasmids, both of which are main resources of exogenous DNA, do not exist in the known P. gingivalis genomes. This could be associated with an adaptive immunity system conferred by clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (cas) genes in P. gingivalis as well as innate immune systems such as a restriction-modification system. In a previous study, few immune targets were predicted for P. gingivalis CRISPR/Cas. In this paper, we analyzed 51 P. gingivalis genomes, which were newly sequenced, and publicly available genomes of 13 P. gingivalis and 46 other Porphyromonas species. We detected 6 CRISPR/Cas types (classified by sequence similarity of repeat) in P. gingivalis and 12 other types in the remaining species. The Porphyromonas CRISPR spacers with potential targets in the genus Porphyromonas were approximately 23 times more abundant than those with potential targets in other genus taxa (1,720/6,896 spacers vs. 74/6,896 spacers). Porphyromonas CRISPR/Cas may be involved in genome plasticity by exhibiting selective interference against intra- and interspecies nucleic acids.

Paper Information

: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183752