Comparative Genomics of Microbial Signal Transduction
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High-throughput genome processing, sophisticated protein sequence analysis, programming, and information management were used to achieve two major advances in the comparative genomics of microbial signal transduction. First, an integrated and flexible bioinformatics platform and the Microbial Signal Transduction database (MiST) were developed, which facilitated the genome-wide analysis of bacterial signal transduction. This platform was used successfully for the high-throughput identification and classification of signal transduction proteins in more than 300 archaeal and bacterial organisms. Second, analysis of information encoded in prokaryotic genomes revealed that the majority of signal transduction systems consist of one-component systems a single protein containing both input and output domains but lacking phosphotransfer domains typical of two-component systems. The prevalence of one-component systems is a paradigm-shifting discovery because two-component systems are currently viewed as the primary mode of signal transduction in prokaryotes. One-component systems are more widely distributed among bacteria and archaea and display a greater diversity of domains than two-component systems. Additionally, in-depth bioinformatic analyses were performed that further characterized the function of two, input, signaling domains. In summary, this systematic, high-throughput delineation of microbial signal transduction is another step forward in our understanding of the genomic basis of life.