Ab initio gene identification in metagenomic sequences

Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Jul;38(12):e132. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq275. Epub 2010 Apr 19.


We describe an algorithm for gene identification in DNA sequences derived from shotgun sequencing of microbial communities. Accurate ab initio gene prediction in a short nucleotide sequence of anonymous origin is hampered by uncertainty in model parameters. While several machine learning approaches could be proposed to bypass this difficulty, one effective method is to estimate parameters from dependencies, formed in evolution, between frequencies of oligonucleotides in protein-coding regions and genome nucleotide composition. Original version of the method was proposed in 1999 and has been used since for (i) reconstructing codon frequency vector needed for gene finding in viral genomes and (ii) initializing parameters of self-training gene finding algorithms. With advent of new prokaryotic genomes en masse it became possible to enhance the original approach by using direct polynomial and logistic approximations of oligonucleotide frequencies, as well as by separating models for bacteria and archaea. These advances have increased the accuracy of model reconstruction and, subsequently, gene prediction. We describe the refined method and assess its accuracy on known prokaryotic genomes split into short sequences. Also, we show that as a result of application of the new method, several thousands of new genes could be added to existing annotations of several human and mouse gut metagenomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Genes, Archaeal*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genome, Archaeal
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Metagenome
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Mice
  • Models, Statistical
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA