Fascinating:

Imagine a book written in a language where there were no spaces, and every word was three letters long.  Now imagine that you could get one story by starting at the first letter, and a different story by starting at the second letter, and another by starting at the third letter.  That’s the situation with some genes in the genetic code.  DNA can code for one protein in the first reading frame, but a different protein in an alternate reading frame.  Since the DNA language has three nucleotide “letters” per codon “word,” and since the opposite strand has three more reading frames, there are potentially six reading frames per gene.  How commonly are alternate reading frames used by an organism?

A paper in PLoS Computational Biology hints that there may be widespread examples of alternate reading frames (ARFs) in mammalian genomes.  ARFs were thought to be rare in eukaryotes.  An international team, using new statistical techniques, found 40 cases in the human genome, but says that this may be a significant underestimate, since their analysis was very conservative…

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