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1.  Altered patterns of gene duplication and differential gene gain and loss in fungal pathogens 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:147.
Duplication, followed by fixation or random loss of novel genes, contributes to genome evolution. Particular outcomes of duplication events are possibly associated with pathogenic life histories in fungi. To date, differential gene gain and loss have not been studied at genomic scales in fungal pathogens, despite this phenomenon's known importance in virulence in bacteria and viruses.
To determine if patterns of gene duplication differed between pathogens and non-pathogens, we identified gene families across nine euascomycete and two basidiomycete species. Gene family size distributions were fit to power laws to compare gene duplication trends in pathogens versus non-pathogens. Fungal phytopathogens showed globally altered patterns of gene duplication, as indicated by differences in gene family size distribution. We also identified sixteen examples of gene family expansion and five instances of gene family contraction in pathogenic lineages. Expanded gene families included those predicted to be important in melanin biosynthesis, host cell wall degradation and transport functions. Contracted families included those encoding genes involved in toxin production, genes with oxidoreductase activity, as well as subunits of the vacuolar ATPase complex. Surveys of the functional distribution of gene duplicates indicated that pathogens show enrichment for gene duplicates associated with receptor and hydrolase activities, while euascomycete pathogens appeared to have not only these differences, but also significantly more duplicates associated with regulatory and carbohydrate binding functions.
Differences in the overall levels of gene duplication in phytopathogenic species versus non-pathogenic relatives implicate gene inventory flux as an important virulence-associated process in fungi. We hypothesize that the observed patterns of gene duplicate enrichment, gene family expansion and contraction reflect adaptation within pathogenic life histories. These adaptations were likely shaped by ancient, as well as contemporary, intimate associations with monocot hosts.
PMCID: PMC2330156  PMID: 18373860
2.  GT-Miner: a graph-theoretic data miner, viewer, and model processor 
Bioinformation  2008;3(5):235-237.
Inexpensive computational power combined with high-throughput experimental platforms has created a wealth of biological information requiring analytical tools and techniques for interpretation. Graph-theoretic concepts and tools have provided an important foundation for information visualization, integration, and analysis of datasets, but they have often been relegated to background analysis tasks. GT-Miner is designed for visual data analysis and mining operations, interacts with other software, including databases, and works with diverse data types. It facilitates a discovery-oriented approach to data mining wherein exploration of alterations of the data and variations of the visualization is encouraged. The user is presented with a basic iterative process, consisting of loading, visualizing, transforming, and then storing the resultant information. Complex analyses are built-up through repeated iterations and user interactions. The iterative process is optimized by automatic layout following transformations and by maintaining a current selection set of interest for elements modified by the transformations. Multiple visualizations are supported including hierarchical, spring, and force-directed self-organizing layouts. Graphs can be transformed with an extensible set of algorithms or manually with an integral visual editor. GT-Miner is intended to allow easier access to visual data mining for the non-expert.
The GT-Miner program and supplemental materials, including example uses and a user guide, are freely available from
PMCID: PMC2646195  PMID: 19255640
graph theory; data mining; visualization; information visualization
3.  Asymmetric interactions in the adenosine-binding pockets of the MS2 coat protein dimer 
The X-ray structure of the MS2 coat protein-operator RNA complex reveals the existence of quasi-synmetric interactions of adenosines -4 and -10 in pockets formed on different subunits of the coat protein dimer. Both pockets utilize the same five amino acid residues, namely Val29, Thr45, Ser47, Thr59, and Lys61. We call these sites the adenosine-binding pockets.
We present here a heterodimer complementation analysis of the contributions of individual A-pocket amino acids to the binding of A-4 and A-10 in different halves of the dimer. Various substitutions of A-pocket residues were introduced into one half of single-chain coat protein heterodimers where they were tested for their abilities to complement Y85H or T91I substitutions (defects in the A-4 and A-10 half-sites, respectively) present in the other dimer half.
These experiments provide functional tests of interactions predicted from structural analyses, demonstrating the importance of certain amino acid-nucleotide contacts observed in the crystal structure, and showing that others make little or no contribution to the stability of the complex. In summary, Val29 and Lys61 form important stabilizing interactions with both A-4 and A-10. Meanwhile, Ser47 and Thr59 interact primarily with A-10. The important interactions with Thr45 are restricted to A-4.
PMCID: PMC37355  PMID: 11504563

Results 1-3 (3)