Progressive Mauve: Multiple alignment of genomes with gene flux and rearrangement

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Multiple genome alignment remains a challenging problem. Effects of recombination including rearrangement, segmental duplication, gain, and loss can create a mosaic pattern of homology even among closely related organisms. We describe a method to align two or more genomes that have undergone large-scale recombination, particularly genomes that have undergone substantial amounts of gene gain and loss (gene flux). The method utilizes a novel alignment objective score, referred to as a sum-of-pairs breakpoint score. We also apply a probabilistic alignment filtering method to remove erroneous alignments of unrelated sequences, which are commonly observed in other genome alignment methods. We describe new metrics for quantifying genome alignment accuracy which measure the quality of rearrangement breakpoint predictions and indel predictions. The progressive genome alignment algorithm demonstrates markedly improved accuracy over previous approaches in situations where genomes have undergone realistic amounts of genome rearrangement, gene gain, loss, and duplication. We apply the progressive genome alignment algorithm to a set of 23 completely sequenced genomes from the genera Escherichia, Shigella, and Salmonella. The 23 enterobacteria have an estimated 2.46Mbp of genomic content conserved among all taxa and total unique content of 15.2Mbp. We document substantial population-level variability among these organisms driven by homologous recombination, gene gain, and gene loss. Free, open-source software implementing the described genome alignment approach is available from http://gel.ahabs.wisc.edu/mauve .
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