Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Du, Zhihua


PART I: CRYSTAL STRUCTURE OF A DIMERIZATIO DOMAIN OF DROSOPHILA CAPRIN Drosophila Melanogaster Caprin (dCaprin) shares conversed HR1 domain with Caprin protein family members, which are RNA binding proteins that play critical roles in many important biological processes, such as synaptic plasticity, stress response, innate immune response and cellular proliferation. One of the Caprin protein family members, Caprin-1, is involved in the pathway of several human diseases, including breast cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, osteosarcoma, hearing loss, and viral infection. The functions of Caprin protein relies on their molecular interactions. Several direct interactions have been established between Caprin-1 and the Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), Ras-GAP SH3 domain-binding protein 1 (G3BP1), and the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) core protein. We have determined the crystal structures of a fragment (residues 187-309) of Drosophila Melanogaster Caprin (dCaprin), which mediates homodimerization through a substantial interface created by a mainly alpha-helical fold. A larger hollow surface is created by homodimerization suggesting a protein binding groove. The FMRP binding should not affect dCaprin homodimerization for an integral alpha-helix in the dimeric dCaprein which formed by the FMRP interacting sequence motif. PART II: CHARACTERIZATION OF TWO TYPE VI-B CRESPR SYSTEMS: PGI5CAS1B AND PGI8CAS13B WHICH EFFECTOR PROTEINS ARE CAPABLE OF PROCESSING PRE-CRRNA INTO MATURE CRRNA CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune system protects microorganism from foreign nucleic acids invasion through endonucleases activity guided by RNA, which system has turned to a powerful genome editing tool applied to a multifold species, ranging from bacteria to human. Pgi5Cas13b and Pgi8Cas13b are identified by a computational sequence database mining approach, the CRISPR arrays lack of Cas1 and Cas2 encoding genes but contain a large candidate effector protein around 1,200 amino acids. They can be potentially classified as subtype VI-B CRISPR-Cas systems. We characterized the mature crRNA for Pgi5Cas13b and Pgi8Cas13b via Northern blot and small RNA sequencing. By EMSA (Electrophoretic mobility shift assay) experiments, we identified the binding constant between Pgi5Cas1b/Pgi8Cas13b and their corresponding crRNAs. The CRISPR loci of two of the Cas13b systems were cloned in pACYC vector and expressed in E. coli cells. Small RNAs were extracted and characterized by Northern Blotting and NGS (small RNA-seq) methods. The NGS results revealed the exact sequences of the crRNAs, which show a few new features not previously observed in other systems, including the longest spacer-derived sequences (32 and 31 nt), spacer-derived sequences flanking both ends of the full DR-derived sequence. The results also indicate different rules of pre-crRNA processing by the Pgi5Cas13b and Pgi8Cas13b systems. The characterization of these CRISPR systems extends the application of CRISPR based genome editing tools and promotes the development of single transcript manipulation tools.




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