BMC Microbiol 2009 Feb 19;9 Suppl 1:S4. Epub 2009 Feb 19.
Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA.
Genome-informed identification and characterization of Type III effector repertoires in various bacterial strains and species is revealing important insights into the critical roles that these proteins play in the pathogenic strategies of diverse bacteria. However, non-systematic discipline-specific approaches to their annotation impede analysis of the accumulating wealth of data and inhibit easy communication of findings among researchers working on different experimental systems. The development of Gene Ontology (GO) terms to capture biological processes occurring during the interaction between organisms creates a common language that facilitates cross-genome analyses. The application of these terms to annotate type III effector genes in different bacterial species - the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000 and animal pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli - illustrates how GO can effectively describe fundamental similarities and differences among different gene products deployed as part of diverse pathogenic strategies. In depth descriptions of the GO annotations for P. syringae pv tomato DC3000 effector AvrPtoB and the E. coli effector Tir are described, with special emphasis given to GO capability for capturing information about interacting proteins and taxa. GO-highlighted similarities in biological process and molecular function for effectors from additional pathosystems are also discussed.