Date of this Version
W365 Nucleic Acids Research, 2020, Vol. 48, Web Server issue
Anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins encoded by (pro)phages/(pro)viruses have a great potential to enable a more controllable genome editing. However, genome mining new Acr proteins is challenging due to the lack of a conserved functional domain and the low sequence similarity among experimentally char- acterized Acr proteins. We introduce here AcrFinder, a web server (http://bcb.unl.edu/AcrFinder) that combines three well-accepted ideas used by pre- vious experimental studies to pre-screen genomic data for Acr candidates. These ideas include ho- mology search, guilt-by-association (GBA), and CRISPR-Cas self-targeting spacers. Compared to existing bioinformatics tools, AcrFinder has the following unique functions: (i) it is the first online server specifically mining genomes for Acr-Aca operons; (ii) it provides a most comprehensive Acr and Aca (Acr-associated regulator) database (populated by GBA-based Acr and Aca datasets); (iii) it combines homology-based, GBA-based, and self-targeting approaches in one software package; and (iv) it provides a user-friendly web interface to take both nucleotide and protein sequence files as inputs, and output a result page with graphic representation of the genomic contexts of Acr-Aca operons. The leave-one-out cross-validation on ex- perimentally characterized Acr-Aca operons showed that AcrFinder had a 100% recall. AcrFinder will be a valuable web resource to help experimental microbiologists discover new Anti-CRISPRs.