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Open Access Research article

The MetJ regulon in gammaproteobacteria determined by comparative genomics methods

Anne M Augustus1 and Leonard D Spicer12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 27710, USA

2 Department of Radiology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 27710, USA

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:558  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-558

Published: 14 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Whole-genome sequencing of bacteria has proceeded at an exponential pace but annotation validation has lagged behind. For instance, the MetJ regulon, which controls methionine biosynthesis and transport, has been studied almost exclusively in E. coli and Salmonella, but homologs of MetJ exist in a variety of other species. These include some that are pathogenic (e.g. Yersinia) and some that are important for environmental remediation (e.g. Shewanella) but many of which have not been extensively characterized in the literature.

Results

We have determined the likely composition of the MetJ regulon in all species which have MetJ homologs using bioinformatics techniques. We show that the core genes known from E. coli are consistently regulated in other species, and we identify previously unknown members of the regulon. These include the cobalamin transporter, btuB; all the genes involved in the methionine salvage pathway; as well as several enzymes and transporters of unknown specificity.

Conclusions

The MetJ regulon is present and functional in five orders of gammaproteobacteria: Enterobacteriales, Pasteurellales, Vibrionales, Aeromonadales and Alteromonadales. New regulatory activity for MetJ was identified in the genomic data and verified experimentally. This strategy should be applicable for the elucidation of regulatory pathways in other systems by using the extensive sequencing data currently being generated.