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Gene Gangs of the Chloroviruses: Conserved Clusters of Collinear Monocistronic Genes.

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Chloroviruses (family Phycodnaviridae) are dsDNA viruses found throughout the world's inland waters. The open reading frames in the genomes of 41 sequenced chloroviruses (330 ± 40 kbp each) representing three virus types were analyzed for evidence of evolutionarily conserved local genomic "contexts", the organization of biological information into units of a scale larger than a gene. Despite a general loss of synteny between virus types, we informatically detected a highly conserved genomic context defined by groups of three or more genes that we have termed "gene gangs". Unlike previously described local genomic contexts, the definition of gene gangs requires only that member genes be consistently co-localized and are not constrained by strand, regulatory sites, or intervening sequences (and therefore represent a new type of conserved structural genomic element). An analysis of functional annotations and transcriptomic data suggests that some of the gene gangs may organize genes involved in specific biochemical processes, but that this organization does not involve their coordinated expression.

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