Emerging evidence for functional peptides encoded by short open reading frames

Nat Rev Genet. 2014 Mar;15(3):193-204. doi: 10.1038/nrg3520. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Short open reading frames (sORFs) are a common feature of all genomes, but their coding potential has mostly been disregarded, partly because of the difficulty in determining whether these sequences are translated. Recent innovations in computing, proteomics and high-throughput analyses of translation start sites have begun to address this challenge and have identified hundreds of putative coding sORFs. The translation of some of these has been confirmed, although the contribution of their peptide products to cellular functions remains largely unknown. This Review examines this hitherto overlooked component of the proteome and considers potential roles for sORF-encoded peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Open Reading Frames*
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics


  • Peptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Untranslated