Preliminary analysis of a partial (30% coverage) genome sequence of Rhodococcus equi has revealed a number of important features. The most notable was the extent of the homology of genes identified with those of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The similarities in the proportion of genes devoted to fatty acid degradation and to lipid biosynthesis was a striking but not surprising finding given the relatedness of these organisms and their success as intracellular pathogens. The rapid recent improvement in understanding of virulence in M. tuberculosis and other pathogenic mycobacteria has identified a large number of genes of putative or proven importance in virulence, homologs of many of which were also identified in R. equi. Although R. equi appears to have currently unique genes, and has important differences, its similarity to M. tuberculosis supports the need to understand the basis of virulence in this organism. The partial genome sequence will be a resource for workers interested in R. equi until such time as a full genome sequence has been characterized.
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