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Conserved Regulation of Cardiac Calcium Uptake by Peptides Encoded in Small Open Reading Frames

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Science  22 Aug 2013:
1238802
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238802

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Abstract

Small Open Reading Frames (smORFs) are short DNA sequences able to encode small peptides of less than 100 amino acids. Study of these elements has been neglected despite thousands existing in our genomes. We and others showed previously that peptides as short as 11 amino acids are translated and provide essential functions during insect development. Here, we describe two peptides of less than 30 amino acids regulating calcium transport, and hence influencing regular muscle contraction, in the Drosophila heart. These peptides seem conserved for more than 550 million years in a range of species from flies to humans, where they have been implicated in cardiac pathologies. Such conservation suggests that the mechanisms for heart regulation are ancient and that smORFs may be a fundamental genome component that should be studied systematically.

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