This article is part of the supplement: Ninth International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB2010): Computational Biology
In vitro homology search array comprehensively reveals highly conserved genes and their functional characteristics in non-sequenced species
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BMC Genomics 2010, 11(Suppl 4):S9 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-S4-S9Published: 2 December 2010
With the increase in genomic and transcriptomic data produced by the recent advancements in next generation sequencers and microarrays, it is now easier than ever to conduct large-scale comparative genomic studies for familiar species. However, there are more than ten million species on earth, and the study of all remaining species is not realistic in terms of cost and time. There have been a number of attempts at using microarrays for cross-species hybridization; however, those approaches only utilized the same probes for each species or different probes designed from orthologous genes. To establish easier and cheaper methods for the large-scale comparative genomic study of non-sequenced species, we developed an in vitro homology search array with the aid of a bioinformatic approach to probe design.
To perform large-scale genomic comparisons of non-sequenced species, we chose squid, one of the most intelligent species among Protostomes, for comparison with human genes. We designed a microarray using human single copy genes and conducted microarray experiments with mRNAs extracted from the squid. Multi-copy genes could not be detected using the microarray in this study because their sequence similarity caused cross-hybridization. A search for squid homologous genes among human genes revealed that 68% of the human probes tested showed the expression of squid homolog genes and 95 genes were confirmed to be expressed highly in squid. Functional classification analysis showed that these highly expressed genes comprise DNA binding proteins, which are under pressure of DNA level mutation and, consequently, show high similarity at the nucleotide level.
Our array could detect homologous genes in squids and humans in spite of the distant phylogenic relationships between the species. This experimental method will be useful for identifying homologs in non-sequenced species, for the development of genetic resources and for the collection of information on biodiversity, particularly when using the genome of sibling or closely related species.