Date of this Version
January/February 2019 Volume 4 Issue 1 e00290-18 msystems.asm.org 1/13
Orphan genes (also known as ORFans [i.e., orphan open reading frames]) are new genes that enable an organism to adapt to its specific living environment. Our focus in this study is to compare ORFans between pathogens (P) and nonpathogens (NP) of the same genus. Using the pangenome idea, we have identified 130,169 ORFans in nine bacterial genera (505 genomes) and classified these ORFans into four groups: (i) SS-ORFans (P), which are only found in a single pathogenic genome; (ii) SS-ORFans (NP), which are only found in a single nonpathogenic genome; (iii) PS-ORFans (P), which are found in multiple pathogenic genomes; and (iv) NS-ORFans (NP), which are found in multiple nonpathogenic genomes. Within the same genus, pathogens do not always have more genes, more ORFans, or more pathogenicity-related genes (PRGs)—including prophages, pathogenicity islands (PAIs), virulence factors (VFs), and horizontal gene transfers (HGTs)—than nonpathogens. Interestingly, in pathogens of the nine genera, the percentages of PS-ORFans are consistently higher than those of SS-ORFans, which is not true in nonpathogens. Similarly, in pathogens of the nine genera, the percentages of PS-ORFans matching the four types of PRGs are also always higher than those of SS-ORFans, but this is not true in nonpathogens. All of these findings suggest the greater importance of PS-ORFans for bacterial pathogenicity.