And finally, itís our Gene of the Month, and this time itís Sarcolamban. A relatively new addition to the list of fruit fly genes, Sarcolamban gets a mention because of its unusual size - itís much, much smaller than regular genes, and one of thousands of so-called smORFs, or small open reading frames, scattered throughout the genomes of many organisms. For a long time it was unknown exactly what - if anything - these smORFs do, but the tiny proteins that they encode are now being discovered to play all kinds of important roles in cells.
Sarcolamban itself makes two little proteins, known as peptides, that are important for keeping flies tiny hearts beating regularly, and a similar gene has been found in humans. So, as with so many things in life, size doesnít always matter.
Too few base-pairs to be a gene ? ...