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I keep seeing this gene diagram, and I am not sure how to interpret it. I don't know what this diagram is called or where it was first depicted, but in the second picture, I have labeled it with what I think are the correct regions.

Unlabeled Unlabeled gene model with arrows, thin, and thick regions.

Labeled Labeled gene model with arrows, thin, and thick regions.

  • If the labels are correct, does this mean that an open reading frame (and consequently, the CDS) does not have to begin at exon 1?

  • If the labels are not correct, could you make some suggestions on how to fix the mistakes or point me towards some resource for interpreting this diagram?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm finding there are lots of ways to label genome fragments, and a thin/thick block doesn't always mean the same thing, so just want to make sure I'm learning things the right way. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Alex Walczak Jun 11 '20 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE Biology. We would encourage you to provide a link to things you "keep seeing". That way we can check them out ourselves. As to one of your questions: "does this mean that an open reading frame (and consequently, the CDS) does not have to begin at exon 1?" Does the ORF have to (or ever) begin at the start of the mRNA transcript? If it doesn't, why would you expect the ORF to have to start in the first exon? $\endgroup$ – David Jun 11 '20 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ I'm seeing them in coursework, the diagrams are a notation used in this class but I'm not able to find out where they came from (I only see this kind of diagram in the class). $\endgroup$ – Alex Walczak Jun 12 '20 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ To your second question, I don't know, that's precisely the question I'm asking. I could deduce it if I knew my interpretation of the diagram were correct $\endgroup$ – Alex Walczak Jun 12 '20 at 0:17
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My professor got back to me and said my diagram is correct -- and that allows me to answer my second question: an ORF does not have to begin in the first exon.

(The UCSC Genome Browser uses a similar format to display genes.)

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