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Microb Inform Exp. 2011 Dec 30;1(1):14. doi: 10.1186/2042-5783-1-14.

Stringent response of Escherichia coli: revisiting the bibliome using literature mining.

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Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (IBB), Centre of Biological Engineering, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.
Contributed equally



Understanding the mechanisms responsible for cellular responses depends on the systematic collection and analysis of information on the main biological concepts involved. Indeed, the identification of biologically relevant concepts in free text, namely genes, tRNAs, mRNAs, gene products and small molecules, is crucial to capture the structure and functioning of different responses.


In this work, we review literature reports on the study of the stringent response in Escherichia coli. Rather than undertaking the development of a highly specialised literature mining approach, we investigate the suitability of concept recognition and statistical analysis of concept occurrence as means to highlight the concepts that are most likely to be biologically engaged during this response. The co-occurrence analysis of core concepts in this stringent response, i.e. the (p)ppGpp nucleotides with gene products was also inspected and suggest that besides the enzymes RelA and SpoT that control the basal levels of (p)ppGpp nucleotides, many other proteins have a key role in this response. Functional enrichment analysis revealed that basic cellular processes such as metabolism, transcriptional and translational regulation are central, but other stress-associated responses might be elicited during the stringent response. In addition, the identification of less annotated concepts revealed that some (p)ppGpp-induced functional activities are still overlooked in most reviews.


In this paper we applied a literature mining approach that offers a more comprehensive analysis of the stringent response in E. coli. The compilation of relevant biological entities to this stress response and the assessment of their functional roles provided a more systematic understanding of this cellular response. Overlooked regulatory entities, such as transcriptional regulators, were found to play a role in this stress response. Moreover, the involvement of other stress-associated concepts demonstrates the complexity of this cellular response.

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