We are working to understand human metabolism and what happens when this biological system breaks down. The problem is more important than ever, given the increasing burden that diabetes and other metabolic dysfunctions have on human health and society.

Microproteins have major implications for human disease

Roughly 25,000 genes code for biologically relevant proteins, most of which are large chains of 300 or more linked amino acids. But, increasingly, “microproteins,” with fewer than 100 amino acids, are being found to have important roles in health and disease.

In a study published in October, Professor Alan Saghatelian, co-corresponding author Uri Manor, first author Qian Chu and colleagues showed that the microprotein PIGBOS contributes to mitigating cell stress. In the second study, published in December, Saghatelian and first author Thomas Martinez identified over 2,000 new, small genes that may encode for microproteins—expanding the number of human genes by 10 percent. Both publications provide a better understanding of human biology that may eventually have implications for diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes.

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