What are “novel Open Reading Frames(nORFs)”?

What is the News?

The University of Cambridge has found out new genes emerging in the genome of living organisms. They have called them novel Open Reading Frames or as nORFs.

Human Genome Project:

  • Human Genome Project(HGP) was an international, collaborative research program conducted from 1990 to 2003. The main goal was to completely map and understand all the genes of human beings.
  • Apart from that it also strengthened the study of human diseases and aided new drug discovery.
  • But even after the research, the number of ‘known’ genes has remained constant for two decades.
  • Hence, a team from the University of Cambridge has set out to find whether new genes emerge in the genome of living organisms and if they do, how they do so.

About the research:

Novel Regions:

  • These novel regions were explored and cannot be defined by our current ‘definition’ of a gene. Hence, these novel regions are called novel Open Reading Frames or as nORFs.
  • These regions are also broadly involved in diseases. They were seen as dysregulated (poor ability to manage) in 22 cancer types.
    • Dysregulated means that they could either be mutated, upregulated, or downregulated or could be uniquely present.
  • Further, these regions can form structures. They can undergo biochemical regulation like known proteins. They can also be targeted by drugs in case they are disrupted in diseases.

Significance of the research:

  • This research shows that there is an urgent need to redesign our existing drugs. Because they currently target only the known proteins and not target the novel regions.

Source: The Hindu

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