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Pervasive Translation in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

By Carol Smith, Jill Canestrari, Jing Wang, Matthew M. Champion, Keith Derbyshire, Todd Gray, Joseph Wade

Posted 10 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/665208

Most bacterial ORFs are identified by automated prediction algorithms. However, these algorithms often fail to identify ORFs lacking canonical features such as a length of >50 codons or the presence of an upstream Shine-Dalgarno sequence. Here, we use ribosome profiling approaches to identify actively translated ORFs in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Most of the ORFs we identify have not been previously described, indicating that the M. tuberculosis transcriptome is pervasively translated. The newly described ORFs are predominantly short, with many encoding proteins of [≤]50 amino acids. Codon usage of the newly discovered ORFs suggests that most have not been subject to purifying selection, and hence do not contribute to cell fitness. Nevertheless, we identify 90 new ORFs (median length of 52 codons) that bear the hallmarks of purifying selection. Thus, our data suggest that pervasive translation of short ORFs in Mycobacterium tuberculosis serves as a rich source for the evolution of new functional proteins.

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