10:35 AM
 | 
Jul 20, 2017
 |  BC Innovations  |  Translation in Brief

Minion power

Novartis finds minions for cell fusion-based therapies

A Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) team has shown the smORF-encoded microprotein MINION interacts with MYMK to induce fusion between muscle cells. The findings are the first demonstration of a biological role for a microprotein, and pave the way for development of therapies that exploit cellular fusion processes.

Small open reading frames (smORFs) have gone largely unrecognized due to a commonly used, arbitrary minimum size cut-off in amino acid sequences that reduces false-positives in identifying proteins. However, smORFs are garnering interest because many appear to encode functional short, typically single-domain proteins, called microproteins.

In a paper published last month in Nature Communications, a team co-led by Srihari Sampath and Srinath Sampath identified myomixer myoblast fusion factor (MINION; MYMX) as a smORF-encoded, skeletal muscle-specific microprotein that...

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