GC content variability of eubacteria is governed by the pol III alpha subunit

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Apr 27;356(1):20-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2007.02.109. Epub 2007 Feb 28.


Eubacterial genomes have highly variable GC content (0.17-0.75) and the primary mechanism of such variability remains unknown. The place to look for is what actually catalyzes the synthesis of DNA, where DNA polymerase III is at the center stage, particularly one of its 10 subunits--the alpha subunit. According to the dimeric combination of alpha subunits, GC contents of eubacterial genomes were partitioned into three groups with distinct GC content variation spectra: dnaE1 (full-spectrum), dnaE2/dnaE1 (high-GC), and polC/dnaE3 (low-GC). Therefore, genomic GC content variability is believed to be governed primarily by the alpha subunit grouping of DNA polymerase III; it is of essence in genome composition analysis to take full account of such a grouping principle. Since horizontal gene transfer is very frequent among bacterial genomes, exceptions of the grouping scheme, a few percents of the total, are readily identifiable and should be excluded from in-depth analyses on nucleotide compositions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Base Composition / genetics*
  • DNA Polymerase III / genetics*
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid
  • Genetic Variation
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA Polymerase III
  • DNA polymerase III, alpha subunit