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Genome Dyn. 2009;6:35-47. doi: 10.1159/000235761. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

The bacterial pan-genome and reverse vaccinology.

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Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md., USA.


The whole genome sequence of most human bacterial pathogens is available and the advent of next-generation sequencing technologies will result in a large number of sequenced isolates per pathogenic species. The study of multiple genome sequences of a given bacterium provides insights into its evolution, pathogenic potential and diversity. The pathogen's pan-genome, defined as the sum of the core genome shared by all sequenced strains and the dispensable genome present only in a subset of the isolates, can be analyzed to assess the size and diversity of the gene repertoire that the species has access to. This information is then used to better inform the reverse vaccinology approach whereby vaccine candidates are identified and prioritized in silico based on genomic data. Bioinformatics integration of genome sequence data with functional genomics results and clinical meta-data is essential to maximize the use of this large amount of information to answer biologically relevant questions.

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