In Science this week, a team from the University of Sussex describe their identification of small open reading frames, or smORFs, that encode peptides that regulate calcium transport in the Drosophila heart — suggesting that such peptides should not be neglected in genomic studies. A previous report showed that peptides as short as 11 amino acids are translated and provide "essential functions" during insect development. Building off of this, the Sussex team identified the two peptides with cardiac function, noting that they appear conserved for more than 550 million years in a range of species. The findings indicate that smORFs may be a "fundamental genome component that should be studied systematically," the researchers say.
Also in Science, the journal's news department highlights the growing popularity of CRISPRs, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, among laboratories. CRISPR was first identified as a bacterial immune system in 2007, but has since been adopted as a genome-editing system that allows researchers to add, delete, activate or suppress specific genes within a genome. The article highlights various uses of the technology and its potential as a genome-editing tool. " Ultimately, CRISPR may take a place beside zinc fingers and TALENs, with the choice of editing tool depending on the particular application," Elizabeth Pennisi writes.