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Nearly all new protein-coding predictions in the CHESS database are not protein-coding

By Irwin Jungreis, Michael L. Tress, Jonathan Mudge, Cristina Sisu, Toby Hunt, Rory Johnson, Barbara Uszczynska-Ratajczak, Julien Lagarde, James Wright, Paul Muir, Mark Gerstein, Roderic Guigo, Manolis Kellis, Adam Frankish, Paul Flicek, The GENCODE Consortium

Posted 02 Jul 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/360602

In a 2018 paper posted to bioRxiv, Pertea et al. presented the CHESS database, a new catalog of human gene annotations that includes 1,178 new protein-coding predictions. These are based on evidence of transcription in human tissues and homology to earlier annotations in human and other mammals. Here, we reanalyze the evidence used by CHESS, and find that nearly all protein-coding predictions are false positives. We find that 86% overlap transposons marked by RepeatMasker that are known to frequently result in false positive protein-coding predictions. More than half are homologous to only nine Alu-derived primate sequences corresponding to an erroneous and previously withdrawn Pfam protein domain. The entire set shows poor evolutionary conservation and PhyloCSF protein-coding evolutionary signatures indistinguishable from noncoding RNAs, indicating lack of protein-coding constraint. Only four predictions are supported by mass spectrometry evidence, and even those matches are inconclusive. Overall, the new protein-coding predictions are unsupported by any credible experimental or evolutionary evidence of function, result primarily from homology to genes incorrectly classified as protein-coding, and are unlikely to encode functional proteins.

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