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GapMind: Automated Annotation Of Amino Acid Biosynthesis

Morgan N. Price, Adam M. Deutschbauer, Adam P. Arkin

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Many microbes can make all of the amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). In principle, we should be able to predict which amino acids a microbe can make, and which it requires as nutrients, by checking its genome sequence for all of the necessary genes. However, in practice, it is difficult to check for all of the alternative pathways. Furthermore, new pathways and enzymes are still being discovered. We built an automated tool, GapMind, to annotate amino acid biosynthesis in bacterial and archaeal genomes. We used GapMind to list gaps: cases where a microbe makes an amino acid but a complete pathway cannot be identified in its genome. We used these gaps, together with data from mutants, to identify new pathways and enzymes. However, for most bacteria and archaea, we still do not know how they can make all of the amino acids.