ORENZA: a web resource for studying ORphan ENZyme activities

BMC Bioinformatics. 2006 Oct 6;7:436. doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-7-436.


Background: Despite the current availability of several hundreds of thousands of amino acid sequences, more than 36% of the enzyme activities (EC numbers) defined by the Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NC-IUBMB) are not associated with any amino acid sequence in major public databases. This wide gap separating knowledge of biochemical function and sequence information is found for nearly all classes of enzymes. Thus, there is an urgent need to explore these sequence-less EC numbers, in order to progressively close this gap.

Description: We designed ORENZA, a PostgreSQL database of ORphan ENZyme Activities, to collate information about the EC numbers defined by the NC-IUBMB with specific emphasis on orphan enzyme activities. Complete lists of all EC numbers and of orphan EC numbers are available and will be periodically updated. ORENZA allows one to browse the complete list of EC numbers or the subset associated with orphan enzymes or to query a specific EC number, an enzyme name or a species name for those interested in particular organisms. It is possible to search ORENZA for the different biochemical properties of the defined enzymes, the metabolic pathways in which they participate, the taxonomic data of the organisms whose genomes encode them, and many other features. The association of an enzyme activity with an amino acid sequence is clearly underlined, making it easy to identify at once the orphan enzyme activities. Interactive publishing of suggestions by the community would provide expert evidence for re-annotation of orphan EC numbers in public databases.

Conclusion: ORENZA is a Web resource designed to progressively bridge the unwanted gap between function (enzyme activities) and sequence (dataset present in public databases). ORENZA should increase interactions between communities of biochemists and of genomicists. This is expected to reduce the number of orphan enzyme activities by allocating gene sequences to the relevant enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence / genetics
  • Databases, Genetic*
  • Enzymes / genetics*
  • Internet* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein / methods


  • Enzymes