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Small proteins: untapped area of potential biological importance

Authors
  • Su, Mingming1, 2
  • Ling, Yunchao1, 2
  • Yu, Jun1
  • Wu, Jiayan1
  • Xiao, Jingfa1
  • 1 CAS Key Laboratory of Genome Sciences and Information, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2 Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Genetics
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Dec 16, 2013
Volume
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2013.00286
Source
Frontiers
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Genetics
  • Review Article
License
Green

Abstract

Polypeptides containing ≤100 amino acid residues (AAs) are generally considered to be small proteins (SPs). Many studies have shown that some SPs are involved in important biological processes, including cell signaling, metabolism, and growth. SP generally has a simple domain and has an advantage to be used as model system to overcome folding speed limits in protein folding simulation and drug design. But SPs were once thought to be trivial molecules in biological processes compared to large proteins. Because of the constraints of experimental methods and bioinformatics analysis, many genome projects have used a length threshold of 100 amino acid residues to minimize erroneous predictions and SPs are relatively under-represented in earlier studies. The general protein discovery methods have potential problems to predict and validate SPs, and very few effective tools and algorithms were developed specially for SPs identification. In this review, we mainly consider the diverse strategies applied to SPs prediction and discuss the challenge for differentiate SP coding genes from artifacts. We also summarize current large-scale discovery of SPs in species at the genome level. In addition, we present an overview of SPs with regard to biological significance, structural application, and evolution characterization in an effort to gain insight into the significance of SPs.

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