Collection of open reading frames at 80 percent of human protein-coding genes

Collection of open reading frames at 80 percent of human protein-coding genes

In a paper published today by Nature Methods, the ORFeome Collaboration (OC), a group of 13 academic, commercial, and governmental organizations, announced that its collection of open-reading frames (ORFs) clones now comprises about 80 percent of all protein-coding genes in human cells - 17,154 in all, and counting. It is the largest human-gene DNA collection openly available to the worldwide research community. 

ach ORF contains the protein-coding regions of a specific gene. The ORF clones are encased in plasmids, which are injected into bacteria and stored in freezers at the OC's multiple distribution sites. The clones are provided in the Gateway vector format, which allows for easy transfer to a large variety of vectors for expressing the corresponding proteins using for example Escherichia coli, yeast, and mammalian cells, or even cell-free expression systems.

The OC grew out of informal discussions among researchers at human ORFeome conferences sponsored by the CCSB at Dana-Farber in the early 2000s. "Attendees from various institutions began discussing what they were doing in the area of generating and validating ORFs," author explained. "We began to think about how we could work together to produce the largest possible collection."

"Different members of the OC have performed different roles in its operation," author continued. "Some groups have worked on adding new clones to the collection, some do DNA sequencing, or concentrate on quality control of the ORFs and archiving them for members. Some do informatics work, while others are mainly involved in distribution. Reaching the current milestone has required a concerted effort from a very diverse group of people and organizations. Everyone involved has made an important contribution - which has made this a very enjoyable and productive collaboration."

This phase represents the "end of the beginning" as OC members are continuing to work together to expand the human ORFeome as well as adding ORFeomes for other model organisms.

Applications include large-scale mapping of protein-protein interactions; production of recombinant human proteins; functional screening of specific proteins; development of disease-specific protein interaction networks; studies on the effect of knocking down or knocking out key proteins in cells, and other uses.

The clones are available from multiple OC distributors around the world at minimal cost, with no restrictions by the OC on their use. Information on the collaboration and on ordering clones is available at the OC website: