Thousands of novel translated open reading frames in humans inferred by ribosome footprint profiling

Elife. 2016 May 27:5:e13328. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13328.


Accurate annotation of protein coding regions is essential for understanding how genetic information is translated into function. We describe riboHMM, a new method that uses ribosome footprint data to accurately infer translated sequences. Applying riboHMM to human lymphoblastoid cell lines, we identified 7273 novel coding sequences, including 2442 translated upstream open reading frames. We observed an enrichment of footprints at inferred initiation sites after drug-induced arrest of translation initiation, validating many of the novel coding sequences. The novel proteins exhibit significant selective constraint in the inferred reading frames, suggesting that many are functional. Moreover, ~40% of bicistronic transcripts showed negative correlation in the translation levels of their two coding sequences, suggesting a potential regulatory role for these novel regions. Despite known limitations of mass spectrometry to detect protein expressed at low level, we estimated a 14% validation rate. Our work significantly expands the set of known coding regions in humans.

Keywords: computational biology; evolutionary biology; genomics; hidden Markov models; human; noncoding RNA; ribosome profiling; systems biology; translation; upstream ORF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Open Reading Frames*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*