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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Research in Computational Molecular Biology (RECOMB) Satellite Workshop on Comparative Genomics

Open Access Proceedings

Gene family assignment-free comparative genomics

Daniel Doerr12*, Annelyse Thévenin12 and Jens Stoye12

Author Affiliations

1 Genome Informatics, Faculty of Technology, Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Bielefeld University, Germany

2 Institute for Bioinformatics, Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Bielefeld University, Germany

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BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13(Suppl 19):S3  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S19-S3

Published: 19 December 2012

Abstract

Background

The comparison of relative gene orders between two genomes offers deep insights into functional correlations of genes and the evolutionary relationships between the corresponding organisms. Methods for gene order analyses often require prior knowledge of homologies between all genes of the genomic dataset. Since such information is hard to obtain, it is common to predict homologous groups based on sequence similarity. These hypothetical groups of homologous genes are called gene families.

Results

This manuscript promotes a new branch of gene order studies in which prior assignment of gene families is not required. As a case study, we present a new similarity measure between pairs of genomes that is related to the breakpoint distance. We propose an exact and a heuristic algorithm for its computation. We evaluate our methods on a dataset comprising 12 γ-proteobacteria from the literature.

Conclusions

In evaluating our algorithms, we show that the exact algorithm is suitable for computations on small genomes. Moreover, the results of our heuristic are close to those of the exact algorithm. In general, we demonstrate that gene order studies can be improved by direct, gene family assignment-free comparisons.