gammaBOriS: Identification and Taxonomic Classification of Origins of Replication in Gammaproteobacteria Using Motif-based Machine Learning

Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 21;10(1):6727. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63424-7.


The biology of bacterial cells is, in general, based on information encoded on circular chromosomes. Regulation of chromosome replication is an essential process that mostly takes place at the origin of replication (oriC), a locus unique per chromosome. Identification of high numbers of oriC is a prerequisite for systematic studies that could lead to insights into oriC functioning as well as the identification of novel drug targets for antibiotic development. Current methods for identifying oriC sequences rely on chromosome-wide nucleotide disparities and are therefore limited to fully sequenced genomes, leaving a large number of genomic fragments unstudied. Here, we present gammaBOriS (Gammaproteobacterial oriC Searcher), which identifies oriC sequences on gammaproteobacterial chromosomal fragments. It does so by employing motif-based machine learning methods. Using gammaBOriS, we created BOriS DB, which currently contains 25,827 gammaproteobacterial oriC sequences from 1,217 species, thus making it the largest available database for oriC sequences to date. Furthermore, we present gammaBOriTax, a machine-learning based approach for taxonomic classification of oriC sequences, which was trained on the sequences in BOriS DB. Finally, we extracted the motifs relevant for identification and classification decisions of the models. Our results suggest that machine learning sequence classification approaches can offer great support in functional motif identification.