Defining genes in the genome of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus: Implications for all microbial genomes

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The original genome annotation of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus contained 2,065 open reading frames (ORFs). The genome was subsequently automatically annotated in two public databases by the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Remarkably, more than 500 of the originally annotated ORFs differ in size in the two databases, many very significantly. For example, more than 170 of the predicted proteins differ at their N termini by more than 25 amino acids. Similar discrepancies were observed in the TIGR and NCBI databases with the other archaeal and bacterial genomes examined. In addition, the two databases contain 60 (NCBI) and 221 (TIGR) ORFs not present in the original annotation of P. furiosus. In the present study we have experimentally assessed the validity of 88 previously unannotated ORFs. Transcriptional analyses showed that 11 of 61 ORFs examined were expressed in P. furiosus when grown at either 95 or 72°C. In addition, 7 of 54 ORFs examined yielded heat-stable recombinant proteins when they were expressed in Escherichia coli, although only one of the seven ORFs was expressed in P. furiosus under the growth conditions tested. It is concluded that the P. furiosus genome contains at least 17 ORFs not previously recognized in the original annotation. This study serves to highlight the discrepancies in the public databases and the problems of accurately defining the number and sizes of ORFs within any microbial genome. Copyright © 2005, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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Journal of Bacteriology



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This article was published in Journal of Bacteriology, Volume 187, Issue 21, Pages 7325-7332.

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Copyright © 2005 ASM.

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