With the rapid increase of sequenced metazoan mitochondrial genomes, a detailed manual annotation is becoming more and more infeasible. While it is easy to identify the approximate location of protein-coding genes within mitogenomes, the peculiar processing of mitochondrial transcripts, however, makes the determination of precise gene boundaries a surprisingly difficult problem. We have analyzed the properties of annotated start and stop codon positions in detail, and use the inferred patterns to devise a new method for predicting gene boundaries in de novo annotations. Our method benefits from empirically observed prevalances of start/stop codons and gene lengths, and considers the dependence of these features on variations of genetic codes. Albeit not being perfect, our new approach yields a drastic improvement in the accuracy of gene boundaries and upgrades the mitochondrial genome annotation server MITOS to an even more sophisticated tool for fully automatic annotation of metazoan mitochondrial genomes.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.