Bioinformatics Centre, Institute of Molecular Biology and Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
MOTIVATION: Prokaryotic genomes are sequenced and annotated at an increasing rate. The methods of annotation vary between sequencing groups. It makes genome comparison difficult and may lead to propagation of errors when questionable assignments are adapted from one genome to another. Genome comparison either on a large or small scale would be facilitated by using a single standard for annotation, which incorporates a transparency of why an open reading frame (ORF) is considered to be a gene. RESULTS: A total of 143 prokaryotic genomes were scored with an updated version of the prokaryotic genefinder EasyGene. Comparison of the GenBank and RefSeq annotations with the EasyGene predictions reveals that in some genomes up to approximately 60% of the genes may have been annotated with a wrong start codon, especially in the GC-rich genomes. The fractional difference between annotated and predicted confirms that too many short genes are annotated in numerous organisms. Furthermore, genes might be missing in the annotation of some of the genomes. We predict 41 of 143 genomes to be over-annotated by >5%, meaning that too many ORFs are annotated as genes. We also predict that 12 of 143 genomes are under-annotated. These results are based on the difference between the number of annotated genes not found by EasyGene and the number of predicted genes that are not annotated in GenBank. We argue that the average performance of our standardized and fully automated method is slightly better than the annotation.
1Center for Biological Sequence Analysis BioCentrum,
Technical University of Denmark Building 208, 2800 Lyngby, Denmark
2Present address: The Bioinformatics Centre, University of Copenhagen Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
BACKGROUND: Contrary to other areas of sequence analysis, a measure of statistical significance of a putative gene has not been devised to help in discriminating real genes from the masses of random Open Reading Frames (ORFs) in prokaryotic genomes. Therefore, many genomes have too many short ORFs annotated as genes. RESULTS: In this paper, we present a new automated gene-finding method, EasyGene, which estimates the statistical significance of a predicted gene. The gene finder is based on a hidden Markov model (HMM) that is automatically estimated for a new genome. Using extensions of similarities in Swiss-Prot, a high quality training set of genes is automatically extracted from the genome and used to estimate the HMM. Putative genes are then scored with the HMM, and based on score and length of an ORF, the statistical significance is calculated. The measure of statistical significance for an ORF is the expected number of ORFs in one megabase of random sequence at the same significance level or better, where the random sequence has the same statistics as the genome in the sense of a third order Markov chain. CONCLUSIONS: The result is a flexible gene finder whose overall performance matches or exceeds other methods. The entire pipeline of computer processing from the raw input of a genome or set of contigs to a list of putative genes with significance is automated, making it easy to apply EasyGene to newly sequenced organisms.