Although prokaryotes live in a variety of habitats and possess different metabolic and genomic complexity, they have several genomic architectural features in common. The overlapping genes are a common feature of the prokaryote genomes. The overlapping lengths tend to be short because as the overlaps become longer they have more risk of deleterious mutations. The spacers between genes tend to be short too because of the tendency to reduce the non coding DNA among prokaryotes. However they must be long enough to maintain essential regulatory signals such as the Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence, which is responsible of an efficient translation.
PairWise Neighbours is an interactive and intuitive database used for retrieving information about the spacers and overlapping genes among bacterial and archaeal genomes. It contains 1,956,294 gene pairs from 678 fully sequenced prokaryote genomes and is freely available at the URL http://genomes.urv.cat/pwneigh. This database provides information about the overlaps and their conservation across species. Furthermore, it allows the wide analysis of the intergenic regions providing useful information such as the location and strength of the SD sequence.
There are experiments and bioinformatic analysis that rely on correct annotations of the initiation site. Therefore, a database that studies the overlaps and spacers among prokaryotes appears to be desirable. PairWise Neighbours database permits the reliability analysis of the overlapping structures and the study of the SD presence and location among the adjacent genes, which may help to check the annotation of the initiation sites.