Bacterial features in the genome of Methanococcus jannaschii in terms of gene composition and biased base composition in ORFs and their surrounding regions

Hidemi Watanabea, Takashi Gojobori*, Kin Ichiro Miura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


As a result of genome projects, the complete nucleotide sequence of the entire genome of an archaeon, Methanococcus jannaschii, was recently determined as well as other complete sequences of bacterial and eucaryal genomes. When all the 1680 predicted protein-cloning genes of M. jannaschii were classified on the basis of sequence similarity, it was found that this archaeon had a chimeric set of 1016 bacterial-type, 471 eucaryal-type and 193 species- or archaebacteria-specific genes. However, most of the genes predicted to be involved in translation and transcription pathways including RNA genes were of the eucaryal-type with only a few exceptions such as 16S ribosomal RNA and some translation factor-like genes. This appeared curious since previous studies indicated that methanogens have bacterial features in gene organization and expression. To understand the apparent inconsistency between physiological observations and the result of the classification of genes for transcription and translation, we examined the structural relatedness of the genome of M. jannaschii to those of other species. In practice, we compared base compositional patterns in ORFs and their surrounding regions. This made it possible to reveal the relationships among the translation- and transcription-related structures in genomes. In this study, we conducted a statistical test called 'G-test' to evaluate the base biases around the boundaries of ORFs. We then found that M. jannaschii possesses more bacterial features in base biases than eucaryal ones, e.g. strong G biases at the positions corresponding to the Shine-Dalgarno site. This indicates that the few exceptional bacterial genes for translation, such as 16S ribosomal RNA and translation factor-like genes, play crucial roles in the translation pathway in M. jannaschii. The possibility that the genome structure in the last common ancestor of all present species was bacterial is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 31 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial features
  • Base composition
  • Gene composition
  • Methanococcus jannaschii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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