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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2015 Feb;23:102-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2014.11.012. Epub 2014 Dec 1.

Taking the pseudo out of pseudogenes.

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Functional and Comparative Genomics, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown St., Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK.


Pseudogenes are defined as fragments of once-functional genes that have been silenced by one or more nonsense, frameshift or missense mutations. Despite continuing increases in the speed of sequencing and annotating bacterial genomes, the identification and categorisation of pseudogenes remains problematic. Even when identified, pseudogenes are considered to be rare and tend to be ignored. On the contrary, pseudogenes are surprisingly prevalent and can persist for long evolutionary time periods, representing a record of once-functional genetic characteristics. Most importantly, pseudogenes provide an insight into prokaryotic evolutionary history as a record of phenotypic traits that have been lost. Focusing on the intracellular and symbiotic bacteria in which pseudogenes predominate, this review discusses the importance of identifying pseudogenes to fully understand the abilities of bacteria, and to understand prokaryotes within their evolutionary context.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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