Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program
Human Genome News Archive Edition
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Consortium Achieves Draft Mouse Sequence
In May the international Mouse Sequencing Consortium (MSC) announced the completion of a draft map (3 coverage) representing at least 95% of the mouse DNA sequence. MSC plans to use longer DNA stretches of known map position and assemble the sequence fragments into a finished, highly accurate form. The mouse is an invaluable resource for interpreting human genome data and finding human genes and other functionally important DNA regions conserved by evolution.
"The success of MSC and other public-private research consortia no doubt will lead to future cooperative efforts to solve big problems quickly, especially when the resulting data belong in the public domain," said Arthur Holden, cochairman of MSC. Comprising three private companies and six NIH institutes, MSC was formed in October 2000.
At 3 billion bases, the mouse genome is comparable in size to that of humans. Even more important, almost every human gene appears to have a counterpart in the mouse; among 4000 genes studied, fewer than 10 are present in only one of the two species. Researchers expect to find that about 85% to 90% of gene sequences are similar in mouse and human, with similarities ranging from 60% to 90%.
In addition to highlighting gene sequences, mouse-human DNA comparisons will help identify other regions responsible for turning gene expression on and off. Genome comparisons also will provide insights into the evolutionary mechanisms underlying overall gene organization.
Like all mammals, humans and mice share the same physiological systems and develop many of the same diseases. Because of its small size, high fertility rate, and ease of manipulation, the laboratory mouse offers great promise in the study of the genetic bases of disease susceptibility, development, and progress. Biotechnological methods now allow DNA sequences containing gene mutations associated with human diseases to be introduced directly into the genomes of mouse embryos. Many will develop into mice that show symptoms similar to those of affected humans, thus facilitating studies and the development of new therapies.
The new mouse data already have been used to locate the mouse equivalent of a human gene that may be related to schizophrenia. The discovery may help researchers develop a mouse model to study further the gene's association with this devastating mental disorder.
Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, further detailed the status of various aspects of the mouse sequencing effort and available resources in "An Open Letter to the Mouse Genetics Community."
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The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.
Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.