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Curr Biol. 1996 Apr 1;6(4):404-16.

Sequencing and analysis of bacterial genomes.

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National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA.


The complete sequences of two small bacterial genomes have recently become available, and those of several more species should follow within the next two years. Sequence comparisons show that the most bacterial proteins are highly conserved in evolution, allowing predictions to be made about the functions of most products of an uncharacterized genome. Bacterial genomes differ vastly in their gene repertoires. Although genes for components of the translation and transcription machinery, and for molecular chaperones, are typically maintained, many regulatory and metabolic systems are absent in bacteria with small genomes. Mycoplasma genitalium, with the smallest known genome of any cellular life form, lacks virtually all known regulatory genes, and its gene expression may be regulated differently than in other bacteria. Genome organization is evolutionarily labile: extensive gene shuffling leaves only very few conserved gene arrays in distantly related bacteria.

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