Bacillus subtilis is known to produce an abundance of small polypeptides. Several of these have antimicrobial activity and others are pheromones or extracellular factors that affect internal signal transduction systems. The completion of the B. subtilis genomic nucleotide sequence has revealed 345 small polypeptide open-reading frames (of 85 codons or less), 81% of which are of unknown function. A significant number of these reside in prophage genomes or phage-like elements where they can be organized into large operons. It is likely that many more exist in the genome of B. subtilis but are "hidden" entirely or partially within other reading frames, or possess non-conventional translation start signals and have escaped detection. The discovery of so many small polypeptide orfs (SPORFs) and the likelihood of many more pose a challenging problem for those undertaking the complete functional analysis of genes that constitute prokaryotic genomes. A survey of known and potential peptide-encoding reading frames is presented herein as an attempt to classify those that are found in the B. subtilis genome according to function inferred from homology searches and to conservation among products of other microbial genomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience