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Open Access Database

PRFdb: A database of computationally predicted eukaryotic programmed -1 ribosomal frameshift signals

Ashton T Belew1, Nicholas L Hepler1, Jonathan L Jacobs12 and Jonathan D Dinman1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20854, USA

2 Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Building 6A/3A03, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:339  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-339

Published: 17 July 2008



The Programmed Ribosomal Frameshift Database (PRFdb) provides an interface to help researchers identify potential programmed -1 ribosomal frameshift (-1 PRF) signals in eukaryotic genes or sequences of interest.


To identify putative -1 PRF signals, sequences are first imported from whole genomes or datasets, e.g. the yeast genome project and mammalian gene collection. They are then filtered through multiple algorithms to identify potential -1 PRF signals as defined by a heptameric slippery site followed by an mRNA pseudoknot. The significance of each candidate -1 PRF signal is evaluated by comparing the predicted thermodynamic stability (ΔG°) of the native mRNA sequence against a distribution of ΔG° values of a pool of randomized sequences derived from the original. The data have been compiled in a user-friendly, easily searchable relational database.


The PRFdB enables members of the research community to determine whether genes that they are investigating contain potential -1 PRF signals, and can be used as a metasource of information for cross referencing with other databases. It is available on the web at webcite.