Overlapping genes: a new strategy of thermophilic stress tolerance in prokaryotes

Deeya Saha, Arup Panda, Soumita Podder, Tapash Chandra Ghosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Overlapping genes (OGs) draw the focus of recent day’s research. However, the significance of OGs in prokaryotic genomes remained unexplored. As an adaptation to high temperature, thermophiles were shown to eliminate their intergenic regions. Therefore, it could be possible that prokaryotes would increase their OG content to adapt to high temperature. To test this hypothesis, we carried out a comparative study on OG frequency of 256 prokaryotic genomes comprising both thermophiles and non-thermophiles. It was found that thermophiles exhibit higher frequency of overlapping genes than non-thermophiles. Moreover, overlap frequency was found to correlate with optimal growth temperature (OGT) in prokaryotes. Long overlap frequency was found to hold a positive correlation with OGT resulting in an abundance of long overlaps in thermophiles compared to non-thermophiles. On the other hand, short overlap (1–4 nucleotides) frequency (SOF) did not yield any direct correlation with OGT. However, the correlation of SOF with CAIavg (extent of variation of codon usage bias measured as the mean of codon adaptation index of all genes in a given genome) and IG% (proportion of intergenic regions) indicate that they might upregulate the aforementioned factors (CAIavg and IG%) which are already known to be vital forces for thermophilic adaptation. From these evidences, we propose that the OG content bears a strong link to thermophily. Long overlaps are important for their genome compaction and short overlaps are important to uphold high CAIavg. Our findings will surely help in better understanding of the significance of overlapping gene content in prokaryotic genomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-353
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Codon adaptation index
  • Genome size reduction
  • Long overlaps
  • Thermophily


Dive into the research topics of 'Overlapping genes: a new strategy of thermophilic stress tolerance in prokaryotes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this