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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 4 (2003), Issue 4, Pages 432-441
Conference Review

Unravelling the ORFan Puzzle

1Department of Chemistry, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
2Bioinformatics Group, Department of Computer Science, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel

Received 7 May 2003; Revised 5 June 2003; Accepted 5 June 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


ORFans are open reading frames (ORFs) with no detectable sequence similarity to any other sequence in the databases. Each newly sequenced genome contains a significant number of ORFans. Therefore, ORFans entail interesting evolutionary puzzles. However, little can be learned about them using bioinformatics tools, and their study seems to have been underemphasized. Here we present some of the questions that the existence of so many ORFans have raised and review some of the studies aimed at understanding ORFans, their functions and their origins. These works have demonstrated that ORFans are an untapped source of research, requiring further computational and experimental studies.