bims-micpro Biomed News
on Discovery and characterization of microproteins
Issue of 2021‒12‒26
one paper selected by
Thomas Farid Martínez
University of California, Irvine

  1. Mol Psychiatry. 2021 Dec 23.
      Schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder are debilitating neuropsychiatric disorders arising from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Novel open reading frames (nORFs) are genomic loci that give rise to previously uncharacterized transcripts and protein products. In our previous work, we have shown that nORFs can be biologically regulated and that they may play a role in cancer and rare diseases. More importantly, we have shown that nORFs may emerge in accelerated regions of the genome giving rise to species-specific functions. We hypothesize that nORFs represent a potentially important group of biological factors that may contribute to SCZ and bipolar disorder pathophysiology. Human accelerated regions (HARs) are genomic features showing human-lineage-specific rapid evolution that may be involved in biological regulation and have additionally been found to associate with SCZ genes. Transposable elements (TEs) are another set of genomic features that have been shown to regulate gene expression. As with HARs, their relevance to SCZ has also been suggested. Here, nORFs are investigated in the context of HARs and TEs. This work shows that nORFs whose expression is disrupted in SCZ and bipolar disorder are in close proximity to HARs and TEs and that some of them are significantly associated with SCZ and bipolar disorder genomic hotspots. We also show that nORF encoded proteins can form structures and potentially constitute novel drug targets.