The genome sequence of Bifidobacterium longum reflects its adaptation to the human gastrointestinal tract.
Schell MA, Karmirantzou M, Snel B
, Vilanova D, Berger B, Pessi G, Zwahlen MC, Desiere F, Bork P
, Delley M, Pridmore RD, Arigoni F
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
2002 Oct 29; 99(22): 14422-7. Epub 2002 Oct 15; PubMed: 12381787.
Abstract + PDF
Bifidobacteria are Gram-positive prokaryotes that naturally colonize the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and vagina. Although not numerically dominant in the complex intestinal microflora, they are considered as key commensals that promote a healthy GIT. We determined the 2.26-Mb genome sequence of an infant-derived strain of Bifidobacterium longum, and identified 1,730 possible coding sequences organized in a 60%-GC circular chromosome. Bioinformatic analysis revealed several physiological traits that could partially explain the successful adaptation of this bacteria to the colon. An unexpectedly large number of the predicted proteins appeared to be specialized for catabolism of a variety of oligosaccharides, some possibly released by rare or novel glycosyl hydrolases acting on "nondigestible" plant polymers or host-derived glycoproteins and glycoconjugates. This ability to scavenge from a large variety of nutrients likely contributes to the competitiveness and persistence of bifidobacteria in the colon. Many genes for oligosaccharide metabolism were found in self-regulated modules that appear to have arisen in part from gene duplication or horizontal acquisition. Complete pathways for all amino acids, nucleotides, and some key vitamins were identified; however, routes for Asp and Cys were atypical. More importantly, genome analysis provided insights into the reciprocal interactions of bifidobacteria with their hosts. We identified polypeptides that showed homology to most major proteins needed for production of glycoprotein-binding fimbriae, structures that could possibly be important for adhesion and persistence in the GIT. We also found a eukaryotic-type serine protease inhibitor (serpin) possibly involved in the reported immunomodulatory activity of bifidobacteria.
The identification of functional modules from the genomic association of genes.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
2002 Apr 30; 99(9): 5890-5. PubMed: 11983890.
Abstract + PDF
By combining the pairwise interactions between proteins, as predicted by the conserved co-occurrence of their genes in operons, we obtain protein interaction networks. Here we study the properties of such networks to identify functional modules: sets of proteins that together are involved in a biological process. The complete network contains 3,033 orthologous groups of proteins in 38 genomes. It consists of one giant component, containing 1,611 orthologous groups, and of 516 small disjointed clusters that, on average, contain only 2.7 orthologous groups. These small clusters have a homogeneous functional composition and thus represent functional modules in themselves. Analysis of the giant component reveals that it is a scale-free, small-world network with a high degree of local clustering (C = 0.6). It consists of locally highly connected subclusters that are connected to each other by linker proteins. The linker proteins tend to have multiple functions, or are involved in multiple processes and have an above average probability of being essential. By splitting up the giant component at these linker proteins, we identify 265 subclusters that tend to have a homogeneous functional composition. The rare functional inhomogeneities in our subclusters reflect the mixing of different types of (molecular) functions in a single cellular process, exemplified by subclusters containing both metabolic enzymes as well as the transcription factors that regulate them. Comparative genome analysis, thus, allows identification of a level of functional interaction between that of pairwise interactions, and of the complete genome.