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Nucleic Acids Res. 1999 Sep 1; 27(17): 3577–3582.
PMCID: PMC148603

Bacterial start site prediction.


With the growing number of completely sequenced bacterial genes, accurate gene prediction in bacterial genomes remains an important problem. Although the existing tools predict genes in bacterial genomes with high overall accuracy, their ability to pinpoint the translation start site remains unsatisfactory. In this paper, we present a novel approach to bacterial start site prediction that takes into account multiple features of a potential start site, viz., ribosome binding site (RBS) binding energy, distance of the RBS from the start codon, distance from the beginning of the maximal ORF to the start codon, the start codon itself and the coding/non-coding potential around the start site. Mixed integer programing was used to optimize the discriminatory system. The accuracy of this approach is up to 90%, compared to 70%, using the most common tools in fully automated mode (that is, without expert human post-processing of results). The approach is evaluated using Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Pyrococcus furiosus. These three genomes cover a broad spectrum of bacterial genomes, since B.subtilis is a Gram-positive bacterium, E.coli is a Gram-negative bacterium and P. furiosus is an archaebacterium. A significant problem is generating a set of 'true' start sites for algorithm training, in the absence of experimental work. We found that sequence conservation between P. furiosus and the related Pyrococcus horikoshii clearly delimited the gene start in many cases, providing a sufficient training set.

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