Identification of functional candidates amongst hypothetical proteins of Mycobacterium leprae Br4923, a causative agent of leprosy.
Mycobacterium leprae is an intracellular obligate parasite that causes leprosy in humans, and it leads to the destruction of peripheral nerves and skin deformation. Here, we report an extensive analysis of the hypothetical proteins (HPs) from M. leprae strain Br4923, assigning their functions to better understand the mechanism of pathogenesis and to search for potential therapeutic interventions. The genome of M. leprae encodes 1604 proteins, of which the functions of 632 are not known (HPs). In this paper, we predicted the probable functions of 312 HPs. First, we classified all HPs into families and subfamilies on the basis of sequence similarity, followed by domain assignment, which provides many clues for their possible function. However, the functions of 320 proteins were not predicted because of low sequence similarity with proteins of known function. Annotated HPs were categorized into enzymes, binding proteins, transporters, and proteins involved in cellular processes. We found several novel proteins whose functions were unknown for M. leprae. These proteins have a requisite association with bacterial virulence and pathogenicity. Finally, our sequence-based analysis will be helpful for further validation and the search for potential drug targets while developing effective drugs to cure leprosy.