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BMC genomics [electronic resource]


Compositional bias; Genome metrics; Lagging strand; Leading strand; Lyme disease; Nucleotide skew; Obligate intracellular; Bacteria/genetics; Computational Biology/methods; Genome, Bacterial; Internet Access; Models, Genetic; User-Computer Interface


BACKGROUND: Bacterial genomes have characteristic compositional skews, which are differences in nucleotide frequency between the leading and lagging DNA strands across a segment of a genome. It is thought that these strand asymmetries arise as a result of mutational biases and selective constraints, particularly for energy efficiency. Analysis of compositional skews in a diverse set of bacteria provides a comparative context in which mutational and selective environmental constraints can be studied. These analyses typically require finished and well-annotated genomic sequences.

RESULTS: We present three novel metrics for examining genome composition skews; all three metrics can be computed for unfinished or partially-annotated genomes. The first two metrics, (dot-skew and cross-skew) depend on sequence and gene annotation of a single genome, while the third metric (residual skew) highlights unusual genomes by subtracting a GC content-based model of a library of genome sequences. We applied these metrics to 7738 available bacterial genomes, including partial drafts, and identified outlier species. A phylogenetically diverse set of these outliers (i.e., Borrelia, Ehrlichia, Kinetoplastibacterium, and Phytoplasma) display similar skew patterns but share lifestyle characteristics, such as intracellularity and biosynthetic dependence on their hosts.

CONCLUSIONS: Our novel metrics appear to reflect the effects of biosynthetic constraints and adaptations to life within one or more hosts on genome composition. We provide results for each analyzed genome, software and interactive visualizations at skew_metrics .


Institute for Systems Biology