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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34007. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034007. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Comparing the similarity of different groups of bacteria to the human proteome.

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Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Numerous aspects of the relationship between bacteria and human have been investigated. One aspect that has recently received attention is sequence overlap at the proteomic level. However, there has not yet been a study that comprehensively characterizes the level of sequence overlap between bacteria and human, especially as it relates to bacterial characteristics like pathogenicity, G-C content, and proteome size. In this study, we began by performing a general characterization of the range of bacteria-human similarity at the proteomic level, and identified characteristics of the most- and least-similar bacterial species. We then examined the relationship between proteomic similarity and numerous other variables. While pathogens and nonpathogens had comparable similarity to the human proteome, pathogens causing chronic infections were found to be more similar to the human proteome than those causing acute infections. Although no general correspondence between a bacterium's proteome size and its similarity to the human proteome was noted, no bacteria with small proteomes had high similarity to the human proteome. Finally, we discovered an interesting relationship between similarity and a bacterium's G-C content. While the relationship between bacteria and human has been studied from many angles, their proteomic similarity still needs to be examined in more detail. This paper sheds further light on this relationship, particularly with respect to immunity and pathogenicity.

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