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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, July 1991; 3(2)

U.K. Genome Mapping Project Users' Meeting

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Genome Mapping Project (HGMP) held its Users' Meeting April 19 at the Royal College of Physicians in London. About 300 scientists attended the meeting, which included a discussion of HGMP and its resources, two scientific presentations, and a summary of national and international activities.

HGMP and Its Resources

Project Manager Tony Vickers (HGMP Resource Centre) stated that HGMP is entering the last year of a 3-year program. The budget has been relatively flat each year, with £4.5 million (about $8 million) budgeted for the final year. Future HGMP funding will be included in the MRC baseline budget, giving all U.K. researchers equal access to available funds.

Lewis Wolpert, Chairman of the HGMP Directed Programme Committee, stated that since its initiation, HGMP has spent £6.5 million (about $11.5 million) to support 54 grants; funds were divided equally between university researchers and MRC laboratory researchers. Thirty-three doctoral studentships have been supported, and senior fellowships are available.

The MRC strategy in the cDNA program is to sequence about 300 bases from each cDNA and to use a computer program to look for homologous sequences in databanks. Over 2000 cDNA clones have been analyzed, and about 700 clones partially sequenced; HGMP expects to have an additional 5000 new cDNAs sequenced by April 1992. The cDNA strategy is being pursued because funds are limited and HGMP considers these expressed genes to be the most biologically interesting part of the genome.

Possible uses for cDNAs were discussed:

  • mapping sorted chromosomes or somatic cell hybrids,
  • making global P1 libraries to fill gaps between cosmids and yeast artificial chromosomes,
  • making gridded cDNA libraries, and
  • stimulating additional sequencing.

The DNA Probe Bank is testing an oligonucleotide service. Current priorities include the acquisition of mouse minisatellite sequences from J.A. Todd's laboratory (John Radcliffe Hospital), 300 human C-A minisatellites, and sequences from index markers as they become available from the U.S. National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR).

Scientific Presentations

Todd discussed his work on microsatellites analyzed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for genetic mapping in the mouse. He is working with a mouse model of Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and has identified 233 mouse microsatellites, half of which come from cDNA sequences. The majority are dinucleotide repeats randomly distributed over the genome.

Nicola J. Royle (University of Leicester, U.K.) reported on the isolation of human telomere junction fragments by an anchor PCR strategy. She has identified a new family of minisatellites found in the proterminal region of some mouse and primate chromosomes.

Other National and International Activities

Bettie J. Graham (NCHGR) gave a presentation on the NCHGR program, stressing that the Human Genome Project is international in scope and that cooperation and collaboration are important to its success.

Diane McLaren (U.K. HGMP Secretariat) discussed the following recommendations from the European Science Foundation report on genome research:

  • Agreement by national funding agencies on attitudinal consistency and expectations regarding the European Community (EC) and the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO).
  • Integration and disciplined scientific planning and assessment in EC-sponsored genome research programs.
  • Encouragement of HUGO to develop a framework for partnership between European efforts and those of other countries.
  • Promotion of consolidated European involvement in the Genome Database (Johns Hopkins University) and in chromosome workshops.
  • Development of shared facilities when they offer improved speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Consideration of practical consequences of genome research (e.g., medical implications; better understanding of genetic diseases having a European distribution; and ethical, legal, and political issues).
  • Incorporation of the European scientific community's ideas and enterprise.

Kay Davies (Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine, U.K.) reported on the Academia Europaea, which was founded in 1988 and has about 1000 members representing medical sciences, humanities, and technical areas. The purpose of the organization is to suggest to European funding bodies the most promising work to be pursued. The Academia Europaea recently made the following recommendations about genome research:

  • cDNAs should be sequenced rather than the entire genome.
  • Comparative studies of model organisms are essential.
  • The program should include other organisms, such as viruses, parasites, and plants.
  • Funds should not be diverted from general research to support the genome program.
  • Major countries should establish genome centers.
  • Coordination with HUGO is important.

Bronwen Loder [EC and HUGO] reported on the EC Human Genome Analysis Program, which has been supported with about 15 million ECU (European currency units) over the past 2 years. She indicated that EC can expedite requests for chromosome-specific workshops and encouraged scientists to apply for support. Elizabeth Evans (HUGO) reminded participants that HUGO was established for investigators and recommended that they use its services.

Alan L. Archibald (U.K. Agricultural and Food Research Council) described a pig genome mapping project involving 16 laboratories in 8 European countries, which aims to develop low-resolution genetic and physical maps and a reference family panel. The following reasons were given for studying farm animals:

  • They have large families, a short generation time, and a well-defined karyotype.
  • They are excellent animals for studying quantitative trait loci.
  • They have been used extensively as models in many biological experiments.

Pig genome research results so far include identification of 40 restriction fragment length polymorphisms, 10 variable number tandem repeats, and 10 microsatellite DNA fragments; physical mapping of 55 probes; and establishment of 100 new somatic cell hybrid lines. Investigators are evaluating a chromosome 1-specific library and developing a flow-sorted chromosome-specific library.

John Edwards (University of Oxford) spoke briefly on the New Zealand sheep map project, including plans to initiate collaborations with the U.K. genome initiative.

For a description of the United Kingdom Human Genome Mapping Project, see HGN 2(6), 1-3 (March 1991).

Bettie J. Graham, Chief
Research Grants Branch

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Human Genome Project 1990–2003

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.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.