When the genomic sequence of the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker’s or Brewer’s yeast) was completed in 1996, the expectation was that an understanding of the integrated functioning of the collection of genes in this single-celled eukaryote would shortly follow. Despite almost 20 years of intense collaborative effort among yeast researchers, nearly 10% of open reading frames (ORFs) are considered uncharacterized. Determining the function of these orphan genes (ORFans) will require mining the current yeast genomic data, compiled in the Saccharomyces genome database (SGD), to most effectively design ORF-specific experiments in cell and molecular biology, and comparative genomics. A network of yeast researchers/educators with a focus on teaching experimental design could help overcome the challenges and absorb the risks of researching individual ORFans. The goal of the proposed Yeast ORFan Gene Project is to organize a consortium of undergraduate researchers and faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) to coordinate resources and design strategies to assign molecular functions to S. cerevisiae ORFans.
Director Jill Keeney, Juniata College, keeney[at]juniata.edu
Funded by National Science Foundation