Contact: Doug Ramsey (858) 822-5825
In the Dec. 5 issue of the journal Nature, Pevzner and other scientists in the 31-institution Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium published a near-final genetic blueprint of a mouse, together with the first comparative analysis of the mouse and human genomes. (Read NIH news release at http://www.genome.gov/.) In a companion paper published in today's Genome Research journal, Pevzner and Tesler (in collaboration with Michael Kamal and Eric Lander at the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research) analyze human-mouse genome rearrangements for insights about the evolution of mammals, and outline their development of a new algorithm to differentiate macro- and micro-level genome rearrangements.
Their conclusion: although the mouse and human genomes are very similar, genome rearrangements occurred more commonly than previously believed, accounting for the evolutionary distance between human and mouse from a common ancestor 75 million years ago. "The human and mouse genome sequences can be viewed as two decks of cards obtained by re-shuffling from a master deck--an ancestral mammalian genome," said Pevzner. "And in addition to the major rearrangements that shuffle large chunks of the gene pool, our research confirmed another process that shuffles only small chunks." "We now estimate over 245 major rearrangements that represent dramatic evolutionary events," added Tesler. "In addition, many of those segments reveal multiple micro-rearrangements, at least 3,170 within these major blocks--a much higher figure than previously thought."
medical doctors study two kinds of rearrangements: clinical
Because the mouse
carries virtually the same set of genes as the human but can be used in
laboratory research, information about the mouse genome will allow scientists
to test experimentally and learn more about the function
In the Nature
paper, scientists comparing human and mouse genomes found
The high-quality draft (near-final) sequence of the mouse genome was assembled by the Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium, an international team of scientists at four sequencing centers in the U.S. and Europe. Those centers were joined in the analysis effort by scientists from 27 institutions in six countries. These included scientists on five University of California campuses--Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and San Diego. (See the Nature paper for a complete listing of authors and institutions). "It is interesting to note that all UC participants in the Nature paper are bioinformaticians rather than 'wet bench' biologists," noted Pevzner. "This reflects a paradigm shift in biology: it is quickly turning into a computational science. UC, and UCSD in particular, have recently invested heavily in bioinformatics development to further strengthen their already very strong wet biology presence."
another mammalian genome in less than two years and to
"This is an extraordinary milestone. For the first time we have an opportunity to see ourselves in an evolutionary mirror," said Eric Lander, Ph.D., Director of the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research. "The mouse genome represents a very important chapter in evolution's lab notebook. Being able to read this notebook and compare genomic information across species allows us to glean important information about ourselves."
Among other findings reported in the Nature paper: The mouse and the human genomes each seem to contain in the neighborhood of 30,000 protein coding genes. And about 5 percent of the genome contains groups of DNA letters that are conserved between human and mouse. Because these DNA sequences have been preserved by evolution over tens of millions of years, scientists infer that they are functionally important and under some evolutionary selection.
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