In many prokaryotic organisms, chromosomal loci known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) and CRISPR-associated (CAS) genes comprise an acquired immune defense system against invading phages and plasmids. Although many different Cas protein families have been identified, the exact biochemical functions of most of their constituents remain to be determined. In this study, we report the crystal structure of PF1127, a Cas protein of Pyrococcus furiosus DSM 3638 that is composed of 480 amino acids and belongs to the Csx1 family. The C-terminal domain of PF1127 has a unique beta-hairpin structure that protrudes out of an a-helix and contains several positively charged residues. We demonstrate that PF1127 binds double-stranded DNA and RNA and that this activity requires an intact beta-hairpin and involve the homodimerization of the protein. In contrast, another Csx1 protein from Sulfolobus solfataricus P2 that is composed of 377 amino acids does not have the beta-hairpin structure and exhibits no DNA-binding properties under the same experimental conditions. Notably, the C-terminal domain of these two Csx1 proteins is greatly diversified, in contrast to the conserved N-terminal domain, which appears to play a common role in the homodimerization of the protein. Thus, although P. furiosus Csx1 is identified as a nucleic acid-binding protein, other Csx1 proteins are predicted to exhibit different individual biochemical activities. Proteins 2013. (C) 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.