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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2000;54:341-411.

Interim report on genomics of Escherichia coli.

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  • 1The Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA.,


We present a summary of recent progress in understanding Escherichia coli K-12 gene and protein functions. New information has come both from classical biological experimentation and from using the analytical tools of functional genomics. The content of the E. coli genome can clearly be seen to contain elements acquired by horizontal transfer. Nevertheless, there is probably a large, stable core of >3500 genes that are shared among all E. coli strains. The gene-enzyme relationship is examined, and, in many cases, it exhibits complexity beyond a simple one-to-one relationship. Also, the E. coli genome can now be seen to contain many multiple enzymes that carry out the same or closely similar reactions. Some are similar in sequence and may share common ancestry; some are not. We discuss the concept of a minimal genome as being variable among organisms and obligatorily linked to their life styles and defined environmental conditions. We also address classification of functions of gene products and avenues of insight into the history of protein evolution.

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