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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2006 Oct;17(5):448-56. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Essential genes on metabolic maps.

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Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes, Burr Ridge, IL 60527, USA.


Within the past five years genome-scale gene essentiality data sets have been published for ten diverse bacterial species. These data are a rich source of information about cellular networks that we are only beginning to explore. The analysis of these data, very heterogeneous in nature, is a challenging task. Even the definition of 'essential genes' in various genome-scale studies varies from genes 'absolutely required for survival' to those 'strongly contributing to fitness' and robust competitive growth. A comparative analysis of gene essentiality across multiple organisms based on projection of experimentally observed essential genes to functional roles in a collection of metabolic pathways and subsystems is emerging as a powerful tool of systems biology.

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