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Using purine skews to predict genes in AT-rich poxviruses

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Author(s): Da Silva Melissa | Upton Chris

Journal: BMC Genomics
ISSN 1471-2164

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 22;
Date: 2005;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Clusters or runs of purines on the mRNA synonymous strand have been found in many different organisms including orthopoxviruses. The purine bias that is exhibited by these clusters can be observed using a purine skew and in the case of poxviruses, these skews can be used to help determine the coding strand of a particular segment of the genome. Combined with previous findings that minor ORFs have lower than average aspartate and glutamate composition and higher than average serine composition, purine content can be used to predict the likelihood of a poxvirus ORF being a "real gene". Results Using purine skews and a "quality" measure designed to incorporate previous findings about minor ORFs, we have found that in our training case (vaccinia virus strain Copenhagen), 59 of 65 minor (small and unlikely to be a real genes) ORFs were correctly classified as being minor. Of the 201 major (large and likely to be real genes) vaccinia ORFs, 192 were correctly classified as being major. Performing a similar analysis with the entomopoxvirus amsacta moorei (AMEV), it was found that 4 major ORFs were incorrectly classified as minor and 9 minor ORFs were incorrectly classified as major. The purine abundance observed for major ORFs in vaccinia virus was found to stem primarily from the first codon position with both the second and third codon positions containing roughly equal amounts of purines and pyrimidines. Conclusion Purine skews and a "quality" measure can be used to predict functional ORFs and purine skews in particular can be used to determine which of two overlapping ORFs is most likely to be the real gene if neither of the two ORFs has orthologs in other poxviruses.
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