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1.  Experimental-confirmation and functional-annotation of predicted proteins in the chicken genome 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:425.
The chicken genome was sequenced because of its phylogenetic position as a non-mammalian vertebrate, its use as a biomedical model especially to study embryology and development, its role as a source of human disease organisms and its importance as the major source of animal derived food protein. However, genomic sequence data is, in itself, of limited value; generally it is not equivalent to understanding biological function. The benefit of having a genome sequence is that it provides a basis for functional genomics. However, the sequence data currently available is poorly structurally and functionally annotated and many genes do not have standard nomenclature assigned.
We analysed eight chicken tissues and improved the chicken genome structural annotation by providing experimental support for the in vivo expression of 7,809 computationally predicted proteins, including 30 chicken proteins that were only electronically predicted or hypothetical translations in human. To improve functional annotation (based on Gene Ontology), we mapped these identified proteins to their human and mouse orthologs and used this orthology to transfer Gene Ontology (GO) functional annotations to the chicken proteins. The 8,213 orthology-based GO annotations that we produced represent an 8% increase in currently available chicken GO annotations. Orthologous chicken products were also assigned standardized nomenclature based on current chicken nomenclature guidelines.
We demonstrate the utility of high-throughput expression proteomics for rapid experimental structural annotation of a newly sequenced eukaryote genome. These experimentally-supported predicted proteins were further annotated by assigning the proteins with standardized nomenclature and functional annotation. This method is widely applicable to a diverse range of species. Moreover, information from one genome can be used to improve the annotation of other genomes and inform gene prediction algorithms.
PMCID: PMC2204016  PMID: 18021451
2.  Re-annotation of the Saccharopolyspora erythraea genome using a systems biology approach 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:699.
Accurate bacterial genome annotations provide a framework to understanding cellular functions, behavior and pathogenicity and are essential for metabolic engineering. Annotations based only on in silico predictions are inaccurate, particularly for large, high G + C content genomes due to the lack of similarities in gene length and gene organization to model organisms.
Here we describe a 2D systems biology driven re-annotation of the Saccharopolyspora erythraea genome using proteogenomics, a genome-scale metabolic reconstruction, RNA-sequencing and small-RNA-sequencing. We observed transcription of more than 300 intergenic regions, detected 59 peptides in intergenic regions, confirmed 164 open reading frames previously annotated as hypothetical proteins and reassigned function to open reading frames using the genome-scale metabolic reconstruction. Finally, we present a novel way of mapping ribosomal binding sites across the genome by sequencing small RNAs.
The work presented here describes a novel framework for annotation of the Saccharopolyspora erythraea genome. Based on experimental observations, the 2D annotation framework greatly reduces errors that are commonly made when annotating large-high G + C content genomes using computational prediction algorithms.
PMCID: PMC4008361  PMID: 24118942
Proteogenomics; Saccharopolyspora erythraea; Systems biology; Genome annotation; High G + C content genomes
3.  Insertion Sequence–Driven Diversification Creates a Globally Dispersed Emerging Multiresistant Subspecies of E. faecium 
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(1):e7.
Enterococcus faecium, an ubiquous colonizer of humans and animals, has evolved in the last 15 years from an avirulent commensal to the third most frequently isolated nosocomial pathogen among intensive care unit patients in the United States. E. faecium combines multidrug resistance with the potential of horizontal resistance gene transfer to even more pathogenic bacteria. Little is known about the evolution and virulence of E. faecium, and genomic studies are hampered by the absence of a completely annotated genome sequence. To further unravel its evolution, we used a mixed whole-genome microarray and hybridized 97 E. faecium isolates from different backgrounds (hospital outbreaks (n = 18), documented infections (n = 34) and asymptomatic carriage of hospitalized patients (n = 15), and healthy persons (n = 15) and animals (n = 21)). Supported by Bayesian posterior probabilities (PP = 1.0), a specific clade containing all outbreak-associated strains and 63% of clinical isolates was identified. Sequencing of 146 of 437 clade-specific inserts revealed mobile elements (n = 74), including insertion sequence (IS) elements (n = 42), phage genes (n = 6) and plasmid sequences (n = 26), hypothetical (n = 58) and membrane proteins (n = 10), and antibiotic resistance (n = 9) and regulatory genes (n = 11), mainly located on two contigs of the unfinished E. faecium DO genome. Split decomposition analysis, varying guanine cytosine content, and aberrant codon adaptation indices all supported acquisition of these genes through horizontal gene transfer with IS16 as the predicted most prominent insert (98% sensitive, 100% specific). These findings suggest that acquisition of IS elements has facilitated niche adaptation of a distinct E. faecium subpopulation by increasing its genome plasticity. Increased genome plasticity was supported by higher diversity indices (ratio of average genetic similarities of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and multi locus sequence typing) for clade-specific isolates. Interestingly, the previously described multi locus sequence typing–based clonal complex 17 largely overlapped with this clade. The present data imply that the global emergence of E. faecium, as observed since 1990, represents the evolution of a subspecies with a presumably better adaptation than other E. faecium isolates to the constraints of a hospital environment.
Author Summary
Whole-genome sequencing has become instrumental in investigating the genome contents of bacteria. However, there is enormous diversity within bacterial populations, and annotation of multiple genomes is costly and elaborate. For investigating diversity and phylogeny within bacterial species, comparative genomic hybridization is an attractive alternative that may provide fundamental insights into the factors (genes) distinguishing bacterial subpopulations. Enterococcus faecium, a worldwide emerging nosocomial pathogen usually resistant to multiple antibiotics, causes infections in immunocompromised patients. Using comparative genomic hybridization of 97 E. faecium strains isolated from different epidemiological niches worldwide, a subpopulation of E. faecium strains was identified that was associated with invasive infections and hospital outbreaks. Approximately 13% of the E. faecium pangenome was highly specific for this subpopulation, and, based on phylogenetic clustering, it should be considered a subspecies. We hypothesize that extensive variation within specific functional genes and high prevalence of mobile elements, mostly insertion sequence elements, contributed to the success of this genetic subset in its competition with other enterococci in hospital settings, creating a novel globally dispersed nosocomial subspecies. These findings fully confirmed previous phylogenetic studies based on multi locus sequence typing that had also revealed a genetic subset of E. faecium, clonal complex 17. Identification of genes specific for clonal complex 17 is a first step in elucidating how global spread and adaptation to the hospital environment of this emerging nosocomial pathogen has occurred.
PMCID: PMC1781477  PMID: 17257059
4.  Re-Annotation of Protein-Coding Genes in 10 Complete Genomes of Neisseriaceae Family by Combining Similarity-Based and Composition-Based Methods 
In this paper, we performed a comprehensive re-annotation of protein-coding genes by a systematic method combining composition- and similarity-based approaches in 10 complete bacterial genomes of the family Neisseriaceae. First, 418 hypothetical genes were predicted as non-coding using the composition-based method and 413 were eliminated from the gene list. Both the scatter plot and cluster of orthologous groups (COG) fraction analyses supported the result. Second, from 20 to 400 hypothetical proteins were assigned with functions in each of the 10 strains based on the homology search. Among newly assigned functions, 397 are so detailed to have definite gene names. Third, 106 genes missed by the original annotations were picked up by an ab initio gene finder combined with similarity alignment. Transcriptional experiments validated the effectiveness of this method in Laribacter hongkongensis and Chromobacterium violaceum. Among the 106 newly found genes, some deserve particular interests. For example, 27 transposases were newly found in Neiserria meningitidis alpha14. In Neiserria gonorrhoeae NCCP11945, four new genes with putative functions and definite names (nusG, rpsN, rpmD and infA) were found and homologues of them usually are essential for survival in bacteria. The updated annotations for the 10 Neisseriaceae genomes provide a more accurate prediction of protein-coding genes and a more detailed functional information of hypothetical proteins. It will benefit research into the lifestyle, metabolism, environmental adaption and pathogenicity of the Neisseriaceae species. The re-annotation procedure could be used directly, or after the adaption of detailed methods, for checking annotations of any other bacterial or archaeal genomes.
PMCID: PMC3686433  PMID: 23571676
the Neisseriaceae family; re-annotation; newly found genes; eliminated non-coding ORFs; newly assigned functions
5.  A domain-centric solution to functional genomics via dcGO Predictor 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 3):S9.
Computational/manual annotations of protein functions are one of the first routes to making sense of a newly sequenced genome. Protein domain predictions form an essential part of this annotation process. This is due to the natural modularity of proteins with domains as structural, evolutionary and functional units. Sometimes two, three, or more adjacent domains (called supra-domains) are the operational unit responsible for a function, e.g. via a binding site at the interface. These supra-domains have contributed to functional diversification in higher organisms. Traditionally functional ontologies have been applied to individual proteins, rather than families of related domains and supra-domains. We expect, however, to some extent functional signals can be carried by protein domains and supra-domains, and consequently used in function prediction and functional genomics.
Here we present a domain-centric Gene Ontology (dcGO) perspective. We generalize a framework for automatically inferring ontological terms associated with domains and supra-domains from full-length sequence annotations. This general framework has been applied specifically to primary protein-level annotations from UniProtKB-GOA, generating GO term associations with SCOP domains and supra-domains. The resulting 'dcGO Predictor', can be used to provide functional annotation to protein sequences. The functional annotation of sequences in the Critical Assessment of Function Annotation (CAFA) has been used as a valuable opportunity to validate our method and to be assessed by the community. The functional annotation of all completely sequenced genomes has demonstrated the potential for domain-centric GO enrichment analysis to yield functional insights into newly sequenced or yet-to-be-annotated genomes. This generalized framework we have presented has also been applied to other domain classifications such as InterPro and Pfam, and other ontologies such as mammalian phenotype and disease ontology. The dcGO and its predictor are available at including an enrichment analysis tool.
As functional units, domains offer a unique perspective on function prediction regardless of whether proteins are multi-domain or single-domain. The 'dcGO Predictor' holds great promise for contributing to a domain-centric functional understanding of genomes in the next generation sequencing era.
PMCID: PMC3584936  PMID: 23514627
6.  Clusters of orthologous genes for 41 archaeal genomes and implications for evolutionary genomics of archaea 
Biology Direct  2007;2:33.
An evolutionary classification of genes from sequenced genomes that distinguishes between orthologs and paralogs is indispensable for genome annotation and evolutionary reconstruction. Shortly after multiple genome sequences of bacteria, archaea, and unicellular eukaryotes became available, an attempt on such a classification was implemented in Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs). Rapid accumulation of genome sequences creates opportunities for refining COGs but also represents a challenge because of error amplification. One of the practical strategies involves construction of refined COGs for phylogenetically compact subsets of genomes.
New Archaeal Clusters of Orthologous Genes (arCOGs) were constructed for 41 archaeal genomes (13 Crenarchaeota, 27 Euryarchaeota and one Nanoarchaeon) using an improved procedure that employs a similarity tree between smaller, group-specific clusters, semi-automatically partitions orthology domains in multidomain proteins, and uses profile searches for identification of remote orthologs. The annotation of arCOGs is a consensus between three assignments based on the COGs, the CDD database, and the annotations of homologs in the NR database. The 7538 arCOGs, on average, cover ~88% of the genes in a genome compared to a ~76% coverage in COGs. The finer granularity of ortholog identification in the arCOGs is apparent from the fact that 4538 arCOGs correspond to 2362 COGs; ~40% of the arCOGs are new. The archaeal gene core (protein-coding genes found in all 41 genome) consists of 166 arCOGs. The arCOGs were used to reconstruct gene loss and gene gain events during archaeal evolution and gene sets of ancestral forms. The Last Archaeal Common Ancestor (LACA) is conservatively estimated to possess 996 genes compared to 1245 and 1335 genes for the last common ancestors of Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota, respectively. It is inferred that LACA was a chemoautotrophic hyperthermophile that, in addition to the core archaeal functions, encoded more idiosyncratic systems, e.g., the CASS systems of antivirus defense and some toxin-antitoxin systems.
The arCOGs provide a convenient, flexible framework for functional annotation of archaeal genomes, comparative genomics and evolutionary reconstructions. Genomic reconstructions suggest that the last common ancestor of archaea might have been (nearly) as advanced as the modern archaeal hyperthermophiles. ArCOGs and related information are available at: .
This article was reviewed by Peer Bork, Patrick Forterre, and Purificacion Lopez-Garcia.
PMCID: PMC2222616  PMID: 18042280
7.  AGeS: A Software System for Microbial Genome Sequence Annotation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17469.
The annotation of genomes from next-generation sequencing platforms needs to be rapid, high-throughput, and fully integrated and automated. Although a few Web-based annotation services have recently become available, they may not be the best solution for researchers that need to annotate a large number of genomes, possibly including proprietary data, and store them locally for further analysis. To address this need, we developed a standalone software application, the Annotation of microbial Genome Sequences (AGeS) system, which incorporates publicly available and in-house-developed bioinformatics tools and databases, many of which are parallelized for high-throughput performance.
The AGeS system supports three main capabilities. The first is the storage of input contig sequences and the resulting annotation data in a central, customized database. The second is the annotation of microbial genomes using an integrated software pipeline, which first analyzes contigs from high-throughput sequencing by locating genomic regions that code for proteins, RNA, and other genomic elements through the Do-It-Yourself Annotation (DIYA) framework. The identified protein-coding regions are then functionally annotated using the in-house-developed Pipeline for Protein Annotation (PIPA). The third capability is the visualization of annotated sequences using GBrowse. To date, we have implemented these capabilities for bacterial genomes. AGeS was evaluated by comparing its genome annotations with those provided by three other methods. Our results indicate that the software tools integrated into AGeS provide annotations that are in general agreement with those provided by the compared methods. This is demonstrated by a >94% overlap in the number of identified genes, a significant number of identical annotated features, and a >90% agreement in enzyme function predictions.
PMCID: PMC3049762  PMID: 21408217
8.  The RAST Server: Rapid Annotations using Subsystems Technology 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:75.
The number of prokaryotic genome sequences becoming available is growing steadily and is growing faster than our ability to accurately annotate them.
We describe a fully automated service for annotating bacterial and archaeal genomes. The service identifies protein-encoding, rRNA and tRNA genes, assigns functions to the genes, predicts which subsystems are represented in the genome, uses this information to reconstruct the metabolic network and makes the output easily downloadable for the user. In addition, the annotated genome can be browsed in an environment that supports comparative analysis with the annotated genomes maintained in the SEED environment.
The service normally makes the annotated genome available within 12–24 hours of submission, but ultimately the quality of such a service will be judged in terms of accuracy, consistency, and completeness of the produced annotations. We summarize our attempts to address these issues and discuss plans for incrementally enhancing the service.
By providing accurate, rapid annotation freely to the community we have created an important community resource. The service has now been utilized by over 120 external users annotating over 350 distinct genomes.
PMCID: PMC2265698  PMID: 18261238
9.  Proteomic Detection of Non-Annotated Protein-Coding Genes in Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf0-1 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8455.
Genome sequences are annotated by computational prediction of coding sequences, followed by similarity searches such as BLAST, which provide a layer of possible functional information. While the existence of processes such as alternative splicing complicates matters for eukaryote genomes, the view of bacterial genomes as a linear series of closely spaced genes leads to the assumption that computational annotations that predict such arrangements completely describe the coding capacity of bacterial genomes. We undertook a proteomic study to identify proteins expressed by Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf0-1 from genes that were not predicted during the genome annotation. Mapping peptides to the Pf0-1 genome sequence identified sixteen non-annotated protein-coding regions, of which nine were antisense to predicted genes, six were intergenic, and one read in the same direction as an annotated gene but in a different frame. The expression of all but one of the newly discovered genes was verified by RT-PCR. Few clues as to the function of the new genes were gleaned from informatic analyses, but potential orthologs in other Pseudomonas genomes were identified for eight of the new genes. The 16 newly identified genes improve the quality of the Pf0-1 genome annotation, and the detection of antisense protein-coding genes indicates the under-appreciated complexity of bacterial genome organization.
PMCID: PMC2794547  PMID: 20041161
10.  eggNOG: automated construction and annotation of orthologous groups of genes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;36(Database issue):D250-D254.
The identification of orthologous genes forms the basis for most comparative genomics studies. Existing approaches either lack functional annotation of the identified orthologous groups, hampering the interpretation of subsequent results, or are manually annotated and thus lag behind the rapid sequencing of new genomes. Here we present the eggNOG database (‘evolutionary genealogy of genes: Non-supervised Orthologous Groups’), which contains orthologous groups constructed from Smith–Waterman alignments through identification of reciprocal best matches and triangular linkage clustering. Applying this procedure to 312 bacterial, 26 archaeal and 35 eukaryotic genomes yielded 43 582 course-grained orthologous groups of which 9724 are extended versions of those from the original COG/KOG database. We also constructed more fine-grained groups for selected subsets of organisms, such as the 19 914 mammalian orthologous groups. We automatically annotated our non-supervised orthologous groups with functional descriptions, which were derived by identifying common denominators for the genes based on their individual textual descriptions, annotated functional categories, and predicted protein domains. The orthologous groups in eggNOG contain 1 241 751 genes and provide at least a broad functional description for 77% of them. Users can query the resource for individual genes via a web interface or download the complete set of orthologous groups at
PMCID: PMC2238944  PMID: 17942413
11.  Protein Molecular Function Prediction by Bayesian Phylogenomics 
PLoS Computational Biology  2005;1(5):e45.
We present a statistical graphical model to infer specific molecular function for unannotated protein sequences using homology. Based on phylogenomic principles, SIFTER (Statistical Inference of Function Through Evolutionary Relationships) accurately predicts molecular function for members of a protein family given a reconciled phylogeny and available function annotations, even when the data are sparse or noisy. Our method produced specific and consistent molecular function predictions across 100 Pfam families in comparison to the Gene Ontology annotation database, BLAST, GOtcha, and Orthostrapper. We performed a more detailed exploration of functional predictions on the adenosine-5′-monophosphate/adenosine deaminase family and the lactate/malate dehydrogenase family, in the former case comparing the predictions against a gold standard set of published functional characterizations. Given function annotations for 3% of the proteins in the deaminase family, SIFTER achieves 96% accuracy in predicting molecular function for experimentally characterized proteins as reported in the literature. The accuracy of SIFTER on this dataset is a significant improvement over other currently available methods such as BLAST (75%), GeneQuiz (64%), GOtcha (89%), and Orthostrapper (11%). We also experimentally characterized the adenosine deaminase from Plasmodium falciparum, confirming SIFTER's prediction. The results illustrate the predictive power of exploiting a statistical model of function evolution in phylogenomic problems. A software implementation of SIFTER is available from the authors.
New genome sequences continue to be published at a prodigious rate. However, unannotated sequences are of limited use to biologists. To computationally annotate a hypothetical protein for molecular function, researchers generally attempt to carry out some form of information transfer from evolutionarily related proteins. Such transfer is most successfully achieved within the context of phylogenetic relationships, exploiting the comprehensive knowledge that is available regarding molecular evolution within a given protein family. This general approach to molecular function annotation is known as phylogenomics, and it is the best method currently available for providing high-quality annotations. A drawback of phylogenomics, however, is that it is a time-consuming manual process requiring expert knowledge. In the current paper, the authors have developed a statistical approach—referred to as SIFTER (Statistical Inference of Function Through Evolutionary Relationships)—that allows phylogenomic analyses to be carried out automatically.
The authors present the results of running SIFTER on a collection of 100 protein families. They also validate their method on a specific family for which a gold standard set of experimental annotations is available. They show that SIFTER annotates 96% of the gold standard proteins correctly, outperforming popular annotation methods including BLAST-based annotation (75%), GOtcha (89%), GeneQuiz (64%), and Orthostrapper (11%). The results support the feasibility of carrying out high-quality phylogenomic analyses of entire genomes.
PMCID: PMC1246806  PMID: 16217548
12.  BG7: A New Approach for Bacterial Genome Annotation Designed for Next Generation Sequencing Data 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49239.
BG7 is a new system for de novo bacterial, archaeal and viral genome annotation based on a new approach specifically designed for annotating genomes sequenced with next generation sequencing technologies. The system is versatile and able to annotate genes even in the step of preliminary assembly of the genome. It is especially efficient detecting unexpected genes horizontally acquired from bacterial or archaeal distant genomes, phages, plasmids, and mobile elements. From the initial phases of the gene annotation process, BG7 exploits the massive availability of annotated protein sequences in databases. BG7 predicts ORFs and infers their function based on protein similarity with a wide set of reference proteins, integrating ORF prediction and functional annotation phases in just one step. BG7 is especially tolerant to sequencing errors in start and stop codons, to frameshifts, and to assembly or scaffolding errors. The system is also tolerant to the high level of gene fragmentation which is frequently found in not fully assembled genomes. BG7 current version – which is developed in Java, takes advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing features, but it can also be run locally in any operating system. BG7 is a fast, automated and scalable system that can cope with the challenge of analyzing the huge amount of genomes that are being sequenced with NGS technologies. Its capabilities and efficiency were demonstrated in the 2011 EHEC Germany outbreak in which BG7 was used to get the first annotations right the next day after the first entero-hemorrhagic E. coli genome sequences were made publicly available. The suitability of BG7 for genome annotation has been proved for Illumina, 454, Ion Torrent, and PacBio sequencing technologies. Besides, thanks to its plasticity, our system could be very easily adapted to work with new technologies in the future.
PMCID: PMC3504008  PMID: 23185310
13.  Argot2: a large scale function prediction tool relying on semantic similarity of weighted Gene Ontology terms 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 4):S14.
Predicting protein function has become increasingly demanding in the era of next generation sequencing technology. The task to assign a curator-reviewed function to every single sequence is impracticable. Bioinformatics tools, easy to use and able to provide automatic and reliable annotations at a genomic scale, are necessary and urgent. In this scenario, the Gene Ontology has provided the means to standardize the annotation classification with a structured vocabulary which can be easily exploited by computational methods.
Argot2 is a web-based function prediction tool able to annotate nucleic or protein sequences from small datasets up to entire genomes. It accepts as input a list of sequences in FASTA format, which are processed using BLAST and HMMER searches vs UniProKB and Pfam databases respectively; these sequences are then annotated with GO terms retrieved from the UniProtKB-GOA database and the terms are weighted using the e-values from BLAST and HMMER. The weighted GO terms are processed according to both their semantic similarity relations described by the Gene Ontology and their associated score. The algorithm is based on the original idea developed in a previous tool called Argot. The entire engine has been completely rewritten to improve both accuracy and computational efficiency, thus allowing for the annotation of complete genomes.
The revised algorithm has been already employed and successfully tested during in-house genome projects of grape and apple, and has proven to have a high precision and recall in all our benchmark conditions. It has also been successfully compared with Blast2GO, one of the methods most commonly employed for sequence annotation. The server is freely accessible at
PMCID: PMC3314586  PMID: 22536960
14.  High precision multi-genome scale reannotation of enzyme function by EFICAz 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:315.
The functional annotation of most genes in newly sequenced genomes is inferred from similarity to previously characterized sequences, an annotation strategy that often leads to erroneous assignments. We have performed a reannotation of 245 genomes using an updated version of EFICAz, a highly precise method for enzyme function prediction.
Based on our three-field EC number predictions, we have obtained lower-bound estimates for the average enzyme content in Archaea (29%), Bacteria (30%) and Eukarya (18%). Most annotations added in KEGG from 2005 to 2006 agree with EFICAz predictions made in 2005. The coverage of EFICAz predictions is significantly higher than that of KEGG, especially for eukaryotes. Thousands of our novel predictions correspond to hypothetical proteins. We have identified a subset of 64 hypothetical proteins with low sequence identity to EFICAz training enzymes, whose biochemical functions have been recently characterized and find that in 96% (84%) of the cases we correctly identified their three-field (four-field) EC numbers. For two of the 64 hypothetical proteins: PA1167 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an alginate lyase (EC and Rv1700 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv, an ADP-ribose diphosphatase (EC, we have detected annotation lag of more than two years in databases. Two examples are presented where EFICAz predictions act as hypothesis generators for understanding the functional roles of hypothetical proteins: FLJ11151, a human protein overexpressed in cancer that EFICAz identifies as an endopolyphosphatase (EC, and MW0119, a protein of Staphylococcus aureus strain MW2 that we propose as candidate virulence factor based on its EFICAz predicted activity, sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase (EC
Our results suggest that we have generated enzyme function annotations of high precision and recall. These predictions can be mined and correlated with other information sources to generate biologically significant hypotheses and can be useful for comparative genome analysis and automated metabolic pathway reconstruction.
PMCID: PMC1764738  PMID: 17166279
15.  An improved hypergeometric probability method for identification of functionally linked proteins using phylogenetic profiles 
Bioinformation  2013;9(7):368-374.
Predicting functions of proteins and alternatively spliced isoforms encoded in a genome is one of the important applications of bioinformatics in the post-genome era. Due to the practical limitation of experimental characterization of all proteins encoded in a genome using biochemical studies, bioinformatics methods provide powerful tools for function annotation and prediction. These methods also help minimize the growing sequence-to-function gap. Phylogenetic profiling is a bioinformatics approach to identify the influence of a trait across species and can be employed to infer the evolutionary history of proteins encoded in genomes. Here we propose an improved phylogenetic profile-based method which considers the co-evolution of the reference genome to derive the basic similarity measure, the background phylogeny of target genomes for profile generation and assigning weights to target genomes. The ordering of genomes and the runs of consecutive matches between the proteins were used to define phylogenetic relationships in the approach. We used Escherichia coli K12 genome as the reference genome and its 4195 proteins were used in the current analysis. We compared our approach with two existing methods and our initial results show that the predictions have outperformed two of the existing approaches. In addition, we have validated our method using a targeted protein-protein interaction network derived from protein-protein interaction database STRING. Our preliminary results indicates that improvement in function prediction can be attained by using coevolution-based similarity measures and the runs on to the same scale instead of computing them in different scales. Our method can be applied at the whole-genome level for annotating hypothetical proteins from prokaryotic genomes.
PMCID: PMC3669790  PMID: 23750082
Protein function prediction; phylogenetic profiles; functional annotation; functional similarity
16.  Homology modeling, comparative genomics and functional annotation of Mycoplasma genitalium hypothetical protein MG_237 
Bioinformation  2011;7(6):299-303.
Mycoplasma genitalium is a human pathogen associated with several sexually transmitted diseases. The complete genome of M. genitalium G37 has been sequenced and provides an opportunity to understand the pathogenesis and identification of therapeutic targets. However, complete understanding of bacterial function requires proper annotation of its proteins. The genome of M. genitalium consists of 475 proteins. Among these, 94 are without any known function and are described as ‘hypothetical proteins’. We selected MG_237 for sequence and structural analysis using a bioinformatics approach. Primary and secondary structure analysis suggested that MG_237 is a hydrophilic protein containing a significant proportion of alpha helices, and subcellular localization predictions suggested it is a cytoplasmic protein. Homology modeling was used to define the three-dimensional (3D) structure of MG-237. A search for templates revealed that MG_237 shares 63% homology to a hypothetical protein of Mycoplasma pneumoniae, indicating this protein is evolutionary conserved. The refined 3D model was generated using (PS)2­v2 sever that incorporates MODELLER. Several quality assessment and validation parameters were computed and indicated that the homology model is reliable. Furthermore, comparative genomics analysis suggested MG_237 as non-homologous protein and involved in four different metabolic pathways. Experimental validation will provide more insight into the actual function of this protein in microbial pathways.
PMCID: PMC3280499  PMID: 22355225
Mycoplasma genitalium; homology modelling; hypothetical proteins; comparative genomics; metabolic pathways
17.  New Assembly, Reannotation and Analysis of the Entamoeba histolytica Genome Reveal New Genomic Features and Protein Content Information 
In order to maintain genome information accurately and relevantly, original genome annotations need to be updated and evaluated regularly. Manual reannotation of genomes is important as it can significantly reduce the propagation of errors and consequently diminishes the time spent on mistaken research. For this reason, after five years from the initial submission of the Entamoeba histolytica draft genome publication, we have re-examined the original 23 Mb assembly and the annotation of the predicted genes.
Principal Findings
The evaluation of the genomic sequence led to the identification of more than one hundred artifactual tandem duplications that were eliminated by re-assembling the genome. The reannotation was done using a combination of manual and automated genome analysis. The new 20 Mb assembly contains 1,496 scaffolds and 8,201 predicted genes, of which 60% are identical to the initial annotation and the remaining 40% underwent structural changes. Functional classification of 60% of the genes was modified based on recent sequence comparisons and new experimental data. We have assigned putative function to 3,788 proteins (46% of the predicted proteome) based on the annotation of predicted gene families, and have identified 58 protein families of five or more members that share no homology with known proteins and thus could be entamoeba specific. Genome analysis also revealed new features such as the presence of segmental duplications of up to 16 kb flanked by inverted repeats, and the tight association of some gene families with transposable elements.
This new genome annotation and analysis represents a more refined and accurate blueprint of the pathogen genome, and provides an upgraded tool as reference for the study of many important aspects of E. histolytica biology, such as genome evolution and pathogenesis.
Author Summary
Entamoeba histolytica is an anaerobic parasitic protozoan that causes amoebic dysentery. The parasites colonize the large intestine, but under some circumstances may invade the intestinal mucosa, enter the bloodstream and lead to the formation of abscesses such amoebic liver abscesses. The draft genome of E. histolytica, published in 2005, provided the scientific community with the first comprehensive view of the gene set for this parasite and important tools for elucidating the genetic basis of Entamoeba pathogenicity. Because complete genetic knowledge is critical for drug discovery and potential vaccine development for amoebiases, we have re-examined the original draft genome for E. histolytica. We have corrected the sequence assembly, improved the gene predictions and refreshed the functional gene assignments. As a result, this effort has led to a more accurate gene annotation, and the discovery of novel features, such as the presence of genome segmental duplications and the close association of some gene families with transposable elements. We believe that continuing efforts to improve genomic data will undoubtedly help to identify and characterize potential targets for amoebiasis control, as well as to contribute to a better understanding of genome evolution and pathogenesis for this parasite.
PMCID: PMC2886108  PMID: 20559563
18.  Gene Ontology annotation of the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9(Suppl 1):S8.
Magnaporthe oryzae, the causal agent of blast disease of rice, is the most destructive disease of rice worldwide. The genome of this fungal pathogen has been sequenced and an automated annotation has recently been updated to Version 6 . However, a comprehensive manual curation remains to be performed. Gene Ontology (GO) annotation is a valuable means of assigning functional information using standardized vocabulary. We report an overview of the GO annotation for Version 5 of M. oryzae genome assembly.
A similarity-based (i.e., computational) GO annotation with manual review was conducted, which was then integrated with a literature-based GO annotation with computational assistance. For similarity-based GO annotation a stringent reciprocal best hits method was used to identify similarity between predicted proteins of M. oryzae and GO proteins from multiple organisms with published associations to GO terms. Significant alignment pairs were manually reviewed. Functional assignments were further cross-validated with manually reviewed data, conserved domains, or data determined by wet lab experiments. Additionally, biological appropriateness of the functional assignments was manually checked.
In total, 6,286 proteins received GO term assignment via the homology-based annotation, including 2,870 hypothetical proteins. Literature-based experimental evidence, such as microarray, MPSS, T-DNA insertion mutation, or gene knockout mutation, resulted in 2,810 proteins being annotated with GO terms. Of these, 1,673 proteins were annotated with new terms developed for Plant-Associated Microbe Gene Ontology (PAMGO). In addition, 67 experiment-determined secreted proteins were annotated with PAMGO terms. Integration of the two data sets resulted in 7,412 proteins (57%) being annotated with 1,957 distinct and specific GO terms. Unannotated proteins were assigned to the 3 root terms. The Version 5 GO annotation is publically queryable via the GO site . Additionally, the genome of M. oryzae is constantly being refined and updated as new information is incorporated. For the latest GO annotation of Version 6 genome, please visit our website . The preliminary GO annotation of Version 6 genome is placed at a local MySql database that is publically queryable via a user-friendly interface Adhoc Query System.
Our analysis provides comprehensive and robust GO annotations of the M. oryzae genome assemblies that will be solid foundations for further functional interrogation of M. oryzae.
PMCID: PMC2654668  PMID: 19278556
19.  EuCAP, a Eukaryotic Community Annotation Package, and its application to the rice genome 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:388.
Despite the improvements of tools for automated annotation of genome sequences, manual curation at the structural and functional level can provide an increased level of refinement to genome annotation. The Institute for Genomic Research Rice Genome Annotation (hereafter named the Osa1 Genome Annotation) is the product of an automated pipeline and, for this reason, will benefit from the input of biologists with expertise in rice and/or particular gene families. Leveraging knowledge from a dispersed community of scientists is a demonstrated way of improving a genome annotation. This requires tools that facilitate 1) the submission of gene annotation to an annotation project, 2) the review of the submitted models by project annotators, and 3) the incorporation of the submitted models in the ongoing annotation effort.
We have developed the Eukaryotic Community Annotation Package (EuCAP), an annotation tool, and have applied it to the rice genome. The primary level of curation by community annotators (CA) has been the annotation of gene families. Annotation can be submitted by email or through the EuCAP Web Tool. The CA models are aligned to the rice pseudomolecules and the coordinates of these alignments, along with functional annotation, are stored in the MySQL EuCAP Gene Model database. Web pages displaying the alignments of the CA models to the Osa1 Genome models are automatically generated from the EuCAP Gene Model database. The alignments are reviewed by the project annotators (PAs) in the context of experimental evidence. Upon approval by the PAs, the CA models, along with the corresponding functional annotations, are integrated into the Osa1 Genome Annotation. The CA annotations, grouped by family, are displayed on the Community Annotation pages of the project website , as well as in the Community Annotation track of the Genome Browser.
We have applied EuCAP to rice. As of July 2007, the structural and/or functional annotation of 1,094 genes representing 57 families have been deposited and integrated into the current gene set. All of the EuCAP components are open-source, thereby allowing the implementation of EuCAP for the annotation of other genomes. EuCAP is available at .
PMCID: PMC2151081  PMID: 17961238
20.  Complete Mitochondrial Genome of the Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72038.
Ganoderma lucidum is one of the well-known medicinal basidiomycetes worldwide. The mitochondrion, referred to as the second genome, is an organelle found in most eukaryotic cells and participates in critical cellular functions. Elucidating the structure and function of this genome is important to understand completely the genetic contents of G. lucidum. In this study, we assembled the mitochondrial genome of G. lucidum and analyzed the differential expressions of its encoded genes across three developmental stages. The mitochondrial genome is a typical circular DNA molecule of 60,630 bp with a GC content of 26.67%. Genome annotation identified genes that encode 15 conserved proteins, 27 tRNAs, small and large rRNAs, four homing endonucleases, and two hypothetical proteins. Except for genes encoding trnW and two hypothetical proteins, all genes were located on the positive strand. For the repeat structure analysis, eight forward, two inverted, and three tandem repeats were detected. A pair of fragments with a total length around 5.5 kb was found in both the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, which suggests the possible transfer of DNA sequences between two genomes. RNA-Seq data for samples derived from three stages, namely, mycelia, primordia, and fruiting bodies, were mapped to the mitochondrial genome and qualified. The protein-coding genes were expressed higher in mycelia or primordial stages compared with those in the fruiting bodies. The rRNA abundances were significantly higher in all three stages. Two regions were transcribed but did not contain any identified protein or tRNA genes. Furthermore, three RNA-editing sites were detected. Genome synteny analysis showed that significant genome rearrangements occurred in the mitochondrial genomes. This study provides valuable information on the gene contents of the mitochondrial genome and their differential expressions at various developmental stages of G. lucidum. The results contribute to the understanding of the functions and evolution of fungal mitochondrial DNA.
PMCID: PMC3753355  PMID: 23991034
21.  Heterochromatic sequences in a Drosophila whole-genome shotgun assembly 
Genome Biology  2002;3(12):research0085.1-85.16.
Annotation of an improved whole-genome shotgun assembly of the Drosophila melanogaster genome predicted 297 protein-coding genes and six non-protein-coding genes, including known heterochromatic genes, and regions of similarity to known transposable elements. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was used to correlate the genomic sequence with the cytogenetic map; the annotated euchromatic sequence extends into the centric heterochromatin on each chromosome arm.
Most eukaryotic genomes include a substantial repeat-rich fraction termed heterochromatin, which is concentrated in centric and telomeric regions. The repetitive nature of heterochromatic sequence makes it difficult to assemble and analyze. To better understand the heterochromatic component of the Drosophila melanogaster genome, we characterized and annotated portions of a whole-genome shotgun sequence assembly.
WGS3, an improved whole-genome shotgun assembly, includes 20.7 Mb of draft-quality sequence not represented in the Release 3 sequence spanning the euchromatin. We annotated this sequence using the methods employed in the re-annotation of the Release 3 euchromatic sequence. This analysis predicted 297 protein-coding genes and six non-protein-coding genes, including known heterochromatic genes, and regions of similarity to known transposable elements. Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-based fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis was used to correlate the genomic sequence with the cytogenetic map in order to refine the genomic definition of the centric heterochromatin; on the basis of our cytological definition, the annotated Release 3 euchromatic sequence extends into the centric heterochromatin on each chromosome arm.
Whole-genome shotgun assembly produced a reliable draft-quality sequence of a significant part of the Drosophila heterochromatin. Annotation of this sequence defined the intron-exon structures of 30 known protein-coding genes and 267 protein-coding gene models. The cytogenetic mapping suggests that an additional 150 predicted genes are located in heterochromatin at the base of the Release 3 euchromatic sequence. Our analysis suggests strategies for improving the sequence and annotation of the heterochromatic portions of the Drosophila and other complex genomes.
PMCID: PMC151187  PMID: 12537574
22.  Using computational predictions to improve literature-based Gene Ontology annotations: a feasibility study 
Annotation using Gene Ontology (GO) terms is one of the most important ways in which biological information about specific gene products can be expressed in a searchable, computable form that may be compared across genomes and organisms. Because literature-based GO annotations are often used to propagate functional predictions between related proteins, their accuracy is critically important. We present a strategy that employs a comparison of literature-based annotations with computational predictions to identify and prioritize genes whose annotations need review. Using this method, we show that comparison of manually assigned ‘unknown’ annotations in the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD) with InterPro-based predictions can identify annotations that need to be updated. A survey of literature-based annotations and computational predictions made by the Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) project at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) across several other databases shows that this comparison strategy could be used to maintain and improve the quality of GO annotations for other organisms besides yeast. The survey also shows that although GOA-assigned predictions are the most comprehensive source of functional information for many genomes, a large proportion of genes in a variety of different organisms entirely lack these predictions but do have manual annotations. This underscores the critical need for manually performed, literature-based curation to provide functional information about genes that are outside the scope of widely used computational methods. Thus, the combination of manual and computational methods is essential to provide the most accurate and complete functional annotation of a genome.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3067894  PMID: 21411447
23.  Improved annotation through genome-scale metabolic modeling of Aspergillus oryzae 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:245.
Since ancient times the filamentous fungus Aspergillus oryzae has been used in the fermentation industry for the production of fermented sauces and the production of industrial enzymes. Recently, the genome sequence of A. oryzae with 12,074 annotated genes was released but the number of hypothetical proteins accounted for more than 50% of the annotated genes. Considering the industrial importance of this fungus, it is therefore valuable to improve the annotation and further integrate genomic information with biochemical and physiological information available for this microorganism and other related fungi. Here we proposed the gene prediction by construction of an A. oryzae Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) library, sequencing and assembly. We enhanced the function assignment by our developed annotation strategy. The resulting better annotation was used to reconstruct the metabolic network leading to a genome scale metabolic model of A. oryzae.
Our assembled EST sequences we identified 1,046 newly predicted genes in the A. oryzae genome. Furthermore, it was possible to assign putative protein functions to 398 of the newly predicted genes. Noteworthy, our annotation strategy resulted in assignment of new putative functions to 1,469 hypothetical proteins already present in the A. oryzae genome database. Using the substantially improved annotated genome we reconstructed the metabolic network of A. oryzae. This network contains 729 enzymes, 1,314 enzyme-encoding genes, 1,073 metabolites and 1,846 (1,053 unique) biochemical reactions. The metabolic reactions are compartmentalized into the cytosol, the mitochondria, the peroxisome and the extracellular space. Transport steps between the compartments and the extracellular space represent 281 reactions, of which 161 are unique. The metabolic model was validated and shown to correctly describe the phenotypic behavior of A. oryzae grown on different carbon sources.
A much enhanced annotation of the A. oryzae genome was performed and a genome-scale metabolic model of A. oryzae was reconstructed. The model accurately predicted the growth and biomass yield on different carbon sources. The model serves as an important resource for gaining further insight into our understanding of A. oryzae physiology.
PMCID: PMC2413144  PMID: 18500999
24.  SFGD: a comprehensive platform for mining functional information from soybean transcriptome data and its use in identifying acyl-lipid metabolism pathways 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:271.
Soybean (Glycine max L.) is one of the world’s most important leguminous crops producing high-quality protein and oil. Increasing the relative oil concentration in soybean seeds is many researchers’ goal, but a complete analysis platform of functional annotation for the genes involved in the soybean acyl-lipid pathway is still lacking. Following the success of soybean whole-genome sequencing, functional annotation has become a major challenge for the scientific community. Whole-genome transcriptome analysis is a powerful way to predict genes with biological functions. It is essential to build a comprehensive analysis platform for integrating soybean whole-genome sequencing data, the available transcriptome data and protein information. This platform could also be used to identify acyl-lipid metabolism pathways.
In this study, we describe our construction of the Soybean Functional Genomics Database (SFGD) using Generic Genome Browser (Gbrowse) as the core platform. We integrated microarray expression profiling with 255 samples from 14 groups’ experiments and mRNA-seq data with 30 samples from four groups’ experiments, including spatial and temporal transcriptome data for different soybean development stages and environmental stresses. The SFGD includes a gene co-expression regulatory network containing 23,267 genes and 1873 miRNA-target pairs, and a group of acyl-lipid pathways containing 221 enzymes and more than 1550 genes. The SFGD also provides some key analysis tools, i.e. BLAST search, expression pattern search and cis-element significance analysis, as well as gene ontology information search and single nucleotide polymorphism display.
The SFGD is a comprehensive database integrating genome and transcriptome data, and also for soybean acyl-lipid metabolism pathways. It provides useful toolboxes for biologists to improve the accuracy and robustness of soybean functional genomics analysis, further improving understanding of gene regulatory networks for effective crop improvement. The SFGD is publically accessible at, with all data available for downloading.
PMCID: PMC4051163  PMID: 24712981
25.  A Systematic Survey of Mini-Proteins in Bacteria and Archaea 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4027.
Mini-proteins, defined as polypeptides containing no more than 100 amino acids, are ubiquitous in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. They play significant roles in various biological processes, and their regulatory functions gradually attract the attentions of scientists. However, the functions of the majority of mini-proteins are still largely unknown due to the constraints of experimental methods and bioinformatic analysis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this article, we extracted a total of 180,879 mini-proteins from the annotations of 532 sequenced genomes, including 491 strains of Bacteria and 41 strains of Archaea. The average proportion of mini-proteins among all genomic proteins is approximately 10.99%, but different strains exhibit remarkable fluctuations. These mini-proteins display two notable characteristics. First, the majority are species-specific proteins with an average proportion of 58.79% among six representative phyla. Second, an even larger proportion (70.03% among all strains) is hypothetical proteins. However, a fraction of highly conserved hypothetical proteins potentially play crucial roles in organisms. Among mini-proteins with known functions, it seems that regulatory and metabolic proteins are more abundant than essential structural proteins. Furthermore, domains in mini-proteins seem to have greater distributions in Bacteria than Eukarya. Analysis of the evolutionary progression of these domains reveals that they have diverged to new patterns from a single ancestor.
Mini-proteins are ubiquitous in bacterial and archaeal species and play significant roles in various functions. The number of mini-proteins in each genome displays remarkable fluctuation, likely resulting from the differential selective pressures that reflect the respective life-styles of the organisms. The answers to many questions surrounding mini-proteins remain elusive and need to be resolved experimentally.
PMCID: PMC2602986  PMID: 19107199

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