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BMC Genomics. 2017 Mar 29;18(1):268. doi: 10.1186/s12864-017-3655-0.

Core-genome scaffold comparison reveals the prevalence that inversion events are associated with pairs of inverted repeats.

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Department of Computer Science, City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Ave., Hong Kong, SAR, People's Republic of China.
School of Computer Science and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, People's Republic of China.
School of Life Science and Technology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, People's Republic of China.
Department of Computer Science, City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Ave., Hong Kong, SAR, People's Republic of China.
University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Research Institute, Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, People's Republic of China.



Genome rearrangement describes gross changes of chromosomal regions, plays an important role in evolutionary biology and has profound impacts on phenotype in organisms ranging from microbes to humans. With more and more complete genomes accomplished, lots of genomic comparisons have been conducted in order to find genome rearrangements and the mechanisms which underlie the rearrangement events. In our opinion, genomic comparison of different individuals/strains within the same species (pan-genome) is more helpful to reveal the mechanisms for genome rearrangements since genomes of the same species are much closer to each other.


We study the mechanism for inversion events via core-genome scaffold comparison of different strains within the same species. We focus on two kinds of bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli, and investigate the inversion events among different strains of the same species. We find an interesting phenomenon that long (larger than 10,000 bp) inversion regions are flanked by a pair of Inverted Repeats (IRs). This mechanism can also explain why the breakpoint reuses for inversion events happen. We study the prevalence of the phenomenon and find that it is a major mechanism for inversions. The other observation is that for different rearrangement events such as transposition and inverted block interchange, the two ends of the swapped regions are also associated with repeats so that after the rearrangement operations the two ends of the swapped regions remain unchanged. To our knowledge, this is the first time such a phenomenon is reported for transposition event.


In both Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli strains, IRs were found at the two ends of long sequence inversions. The two ends of the inversion remained unchanged before and after the inversion event. The existence of IRs can explain the breakpoint reuse phenomenon. We also observed that other rearrangement operations such as transposition, inverted transposition, and inverted block interchange, had repeats (not necessarily inverted) at the ends of each segment, where the ends remained unchanged before and after the rearrangement operations. This suggests that the conservation of ends could possibly be a popular phenomenon in many types of chromosome rearrangement events.


Comparative genomics; Genome rearrangment; Inversion; Inverted block interchange; Transposition

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