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Open Access Research article

Separate base usages of genes located on the leading and lagging strands in Chlamydia muridarum revealed by the Z curve method

Feng-Biao Guo1* and Xiu-Juan Yu2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, 610054, China

2 Department of clinical medicine, West China Medical School, Sichuan University, Chengdu, 610091, China

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:366  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-366

Published: 10 October 2007

Abstract

Background

The nucleotide compositional asymmetry between the leading and lagging strands in bacterial genomes has been the subject of intensive study in the past few years. It is interesting to mention that almost all bacterial genomes exhibit the same kind of base asymmetry. This work aims to investigate the strand biases in Chlamydia muridarum genome and show the potential of the Z curve method for quantitatively differentiating genes on the leading and lagging strands.

Results

The occurrence frequencies of bases of protein-coding genes in C. muridarum genome were analyzed by the Z curve method. It was found that genes located on the two strands of replication have distinct base usages in C. muridarum genome. According to their positions in the 9-D space spanned by the variables u1 u9 of the Z curve method, K-means clustering algorithm can assign about 94% of genes to the correct strands, which is a few percent higher than those correctly classified by K-means based on the RSCU. The base usage and codon usage analyses show that genes on the leading strand have more G than C and more T than A, particularly at the third codon position. For genes on the lagging strand the biases is reverse. The y component of the Z curves for the complete chromosome sequences show that the excess of G over C and T over A are more remarkable in C. muridarum genome than in other bacterial genomes without separating base and/or codon usages. Furthermore, for the genomes of Borrelia burgdorferi, Treponema pallidum, Chlamydia muridarum and Chlamydia trachomatis, in which distinct base and/or codon usages have been observed, closer phylogenetic distance is found compared with other bacterial genomes.

Conclusion

The nature of the strand biases of base composition in C. muridarum is similar to that in most other bacterial genomes. However, the base composition asymmetry between the leading and lagging strands in C. muridarum is more significant than that in other bacteria. It's supposed that the remarkable strand biases of G/C and T/A are responsible for the appearance of separate base or codon usages in C. muridarum. On the other hand, the closer phylogenetic distance among the four bacterial genomes with separate base and/or codon usages is necessary rather than occasional. It's also shown that the Z curve method may be more sensitive than RSCU when being used to quantitatively analyze DNA sequences.