On dynamics of overlapping genes in bacterial genomes

Yoko Fukuda, Yoichi Nakayama, Masaru Tomita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


A genome-wide computational analysis of overlapping genes in various prokaryotic genomes was conducted to study the evolutionary rates of the formation and degradation of overlapping genes. Overlapping genes are adjacent genes that overlap partially or entirely. Overlapping gene pairs extracted from complete bacterial genome sequences were classified into three directional patterns, namely, 'convergent' (→←), 'unidirectional' (→→), and 'divergent' (←→). Divergent overlapping genes were rare compared to the other two patterns. We also compared the structures of overlapping genes that are not conserved in the homologous genes of different species. We found that overlapping genes are mainly generated from gene pairs with short intergenic regions. Overlapping genes caused by mutations at the 3′-end of genes occur more frequently than overlapping genes generated by mutations at the 5′-end of genes in closely related species. In contrast, gene overlaps due to mutations at the 5′-ends accumulate in distant species. These differences presumably correlate to the genomic divergence among species. The evolution of these overlapping gene structures is probably related to the evolutionary time scale, which suggests that the evolution of overlapping genes occurs at a universal mutation rate across species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Dec 24


  • Bacterial genome
  • Comparative genomics
  • Intergenic region
  • Mutation rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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