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BMC Microbiol. 2005 Oct 13;5:60.

Genometrics as an essential tool for the assembly of whole genome sequences: the example of the chromosome of Bifidobacterium longum NCC2705.

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Département de Microbiologie Fondamentale, Faculté de Biologie et Médecine, Université de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.



Analysis of the first reported complete genome sequence of Bifidobacterium longum NCC2705, an actinobacterium colonizing the gastrointestinal tract, uncovered its proteomic relatedness to Streptomyces coelicolor and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. However, a rapid scrutiny by genometric methods revealed a genome organization totally different from all so far sequenced high-GC Gram-positive chromosomes.


Generally, the cumulative GC- and ORF orientation skew curves of prokaryotic genomes consist of two linear segments of opposite slope: the minimum and the maximum of the curves correspond to the origin and the terminus of chromosome replication, respectively. However, analyses of the B. longum NCC2705 chromosome yielded six, instead of two, linear segments, while its dnaA locus, usually associated with the origin of replication, was not located at the minimum of the curves. Furthermore, the coorientation of gene transcription with replication was very low. Comparison with closely related actinobacteria strongly suggested that the chromosome of B. longum was misassembled, and the identification of two pairs of relatively long homologous DNA sequences offers the possibility for an alternative genome assembly proposed here below. By genometric criteria, this configuration displays all of the characters common to bacteria, in particular to related high-GC Gram-positives. In addition, it is compatible with the partially sequenced genome of DJO10A B. longum strain. Recently, a corrected sequence of B. longum NCC2705, with a configuration similar to the one proposed here below, has been deposited in GenBank, confirming our predictions.


Genometric analyses, in conjunction with standard bioinformatic tools and knowledge of bacterial chromosome architecture, represent fast and straightforward methods for the evaluation of chromosome assembly.

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