Essential genes, indispensable genes for an organism's survival, encode functions that are considered a foundation of life. Based on those experimentally determined for 10 bacteria, we find that essential genes are more preferentially situated at the leading strand than at the lagging strand, for all the 10 genomes studied, confirming previous findings based on either smaller datasets or putatively assigned ones by homology search. Furthermore, we find that rather than all essential genes, only those with the COG functional category of information storage and process (J, K and L), and subcategories D (cell cycle control), M (cell wall biogenesis), O (posttranslational modification), C (energy production and conversion), G (carbohydrate transport and metabolism), E (amino acid transport and metabolism) and F (nucleotide transport and metabolism) are preferentially situated at the leading strand. In contrast, the strand-bias for essential genes in other COG functional subcategories is not statistically significant. These results suggest that the remarkable strand-bias of the distribution of essential genes is mainly relevant to the aforementioned functionalities, which, therefore, likely play a key role in shaping the gene strand-bias in bacterial genomes.
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