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      TETRA: a web-service and a stand-alone program for the analysis and comparison of tetranucleotide usage patterns in DNA sequences


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          In the emerging field of environmental genomics, direct cloning and sequencing of genomic fragments from complex microbial communities has proven to be a valuable source of new enzymes, expanding the knowledge of basic biological processes. The central problem of this so called metagenome-approach is that the cloned fragments often lack suitable phylogenetic marker genes, rendering the identification of clones that are likely to originate from the same genome difficult or impossible. In such cases, the analysis of intrinsic DNA-signatures like tetranucleotide frequencies can provide valuable hints on fragment affiliation. With this application in mind, the TETRA web-service and the TETRA stand-alone program have been developed, both of which automate the task of comparative tetranucleotide frequency analysis.

          Availability: http://www.megx.net/tetra


          TETRA provides a statistical analysis of tetranucleotide usage patterns in genomic fragments, either via a web-service or a stand-alone program. With respect to discriminatory power, such an analysis outperforms the assignment of genomic fragments based on the (G+C)-content, which is a widely-used sequence-based measure for assessing fragment relatedness. While the web-service is restricted to the calculation of correlation coefficients between tetranucleotide usage patterns of submitted DNA sequences, the stand-alone program generates a much more detailed output, comprising all raw data and graphical plots. The stand-alone program is controlled via a graphical user interface and can batch-process a multitude of sequences. Furthermore, it comes with pre-computed tetranucleotide usage patterns for 166 prokaryote chromosomes, providing a useful reference dataset and source for data-mining.


          Up to now, the analysis of skewed oligonucleotide distributions within DNA sequences is not a commonly used tool within metagenomics. With the TETRA web-service and stand-alone program, the method is now accessible in an easy to use manner for a broad audience. This will hopefully facilitate the interrelation of genomic fragments from metagenome libraries, ultimately leading to new insights into the genetic potentials of yet uncultured microorganisms.

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          Most cited references18

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          Community structure and metabolism through reconstruction of microbial genomes from the environment.

          Microbial communities are vital in the functioning of all ecosystems; however, most microorganisms are uncultivated, and their roles in natural systems are unclear. Here, using random shotgun sequencing of DNA from a natural acidophilic biofilm, we report reconstruction of near-complete genomes of Leptospirillum group II and Ferroplasma type II, and partial recovery of three other genomes. This was possible because the biofilm was dominated by a small number of species populations and the frequency of genomic rearrangements and gene insertions or deletions was relatively low. Because each sequence read came from a different individual, we could determine that single-nucleotide polymorphisms are the predominant form of heterogeneity at the strain level. The Leptospirillum group II genome had remarkably few nucleotide polymorphisms, despite the existence of low-abundance variants. The Ferroplasma type II genome seems to be a composite from three ancestral strains that have undergone homologous recombination to form a large population of mosaic genomes. Analysis of the gene complement for each organism revealed the pathways for carbon and nitrogen fixation and energy generation, and provided insights into survival strategies in an extreme environment.
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            Bacterial rhodopsin: evidence for a new type of phototrophy in the sea.

            Extremely halophilic archaea contain retinal-binding integral membrane proteins called bacteriorhodopsins that function as light-driven proton pumps. So far, bacteriorhodopsins capable of generating a chemiosmotic membrane potential in response to light have been demonstrated only in halophilic archaea. We describe here a type of rhodopsin derived from bacteria that was discovered through genomic analyses of naturally occuring marine bacterioplankton. The bacterial rhodopsin was encoded in the genome of an uncultivated gamma-proteobacterium and shared highest amino acid sequence similarity with archaeal rhodopsins. The protein was functionally expressed in Escherichia coli and bound retinal to form an active, light-driven proton pump. The new rhodopsin exhibited a photochemical reaction cycle with intermediates and kinetics characteristic of archaeal proton-pumping rhodopsins. Our results demonstrate that archaeal-like rhodopsins are broadly distributed among different taxa, including members of the domain Bacteria. Our data also indicate that a previously unsuspected mode of bacterially mediated light-driven energy generation may commonly occur in oceanic surface waters worldwide.
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              Proteorhodopsin phototrophy in the ocean.

              Proteorhodopsin, a retinal-containing integral membrane protein that functions as a light-driven proton pump, was discovered in the genome of an uncultivated marine bacterium; however, the prevalence, expression and genetic variability of this protein in native marine microbial populations remain unknown. Here we report that photoactive proteorhodopsin is present in oceanic surface waters. We also provide evidence of an extensive family of globally distributed proteorhodopsin variants. The protein pigments comprising this rhodopsin family seem to be spectrally tuned to different habitats--absorbing light at different wavelengths in accordance with light available in the environment. Together, our data suggest that proteorhodopsin-based phototrophy is a globally significant oceanic microbial process.

                Author and article information

                BMC Bioinformatics
                BMC Bioinformatics
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 October 2004
                : 5
                : 163
                [1 ]Microbial Genomics Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
                [2 ]International University Bremen, D-28759 Bremen, Germany
                Copyright © 2004 Teeling et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 17 August 2004
                : 26 October 2004

                Bioinformatics & Computational biology
                Bioinformatics & Computational biology


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