|Researchers Assemble Second Non-Human Primate Genome
Rhesus Macaque DNA Sequence Available in Free, Public Databases
A multi-center team has deposited the draft genome sequence of the rhesus macaque
monkey into free public databases for use by the worldwide research community,
the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes
of Health (NIH), announced today.
The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is the second non-human primate,
after the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), to have its genome sequenced,
and is the first of the Old World monkeys to have its DNA deciphered. Overall,
the rhesus genome shares about 92 to 95 percent of its sequence with the human
(Homo sapiens) and more than 98 percent with the chimpanzee. Consequently,
the rhesus provides an ideal reference point for comparisons among the three
closely related primates. Sequencing is also underway on the genomes of a number
of other primates, including the orangutan, marmoset and gorilla.
The sequencing of the rhesus genome was conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine
Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington
University in St. Louis and at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md.,
which are part of the NHGRI-supported Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network.
The DNA samples used in the sequencing came from a female rhesus macaque at the
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio.
Independent assemblies of the rhesus genome data were carried out at each of
the three sequencing centers using different and complementary approaches. A
team led by Granger Sutton, Ph.D., at the J. Craig Venter Institute, then joined
the resulting data into a single, high-density draft, or “melded assembly.” This
collaborative venture also made use of existing resources: the reference sequence
of the human genome, published rhesus DNA mapping resources and the rhesus DNA
fingerprint database from the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center at the British
Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver. The new, high-quality assembly, which covers
93 percent of the rhesus genome, will enable researchers to make evolutionary
comparisons and accurate gene predictions for this important organism.
Because of its genetic, physiologic and metabolic similarities with humans,
the rhesus macaque is the major, non-human primate used for the study of human
disease, and also serves as an important system in drug development. Rhesus macaques
are used for essential research in neuroscience, behavioral biology, reproductive
physiology, endocrinology and cardiovascular studies. In addition, due to its
response to the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the rhesus is widely recognized
as the best animal model for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It
also serves as a valuable model for studying other human infectious diseases
and for vaccine research.
The availability of the rhesus genome sequence will facilitate study in these
areas by enabling researchers to build a list of rhesus genes, as well as a list
of differences between the rhesus, the chimpanzee and humans. A group of scientists
has been organized to speed more detailed analyses of the rhesus data.
The worldwide research community can access the sequence data through the following
public databases and genome viewers: GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/Genbank)
and Map Viewer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mapview/)
at NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); EMBL Bank (www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/index.html)
at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s Nucleotide Sequence Database;
and the DNA Data Bank of Japan (www.ddbj.nig.ac.jp).
The data can also be viewed through the UCSC Genome Browser (http://www.genome.ucsc.edu/)
at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Ensembl Genome Browser
(www.ensembl.org) at the Wellcome Trust
Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England. Additional information about the rhesus
sequence is available through the Human Genome Sequence Center at Baylor College
of Medicine (http://www.hgsc.bcm.tmc.edu/)
NHGRI approved efforts to decipher the genome of the rhesus macaque based on
its evaluation of the importance of such efforts to biomedical research. The
sequencing needed to produce a high-quality draft took about two years to complete
and cost approximately $22 million.
To read the white paper that outlines the scientific rationale and strategy
for sequencing the rhesus, go to: http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Research/Sequencing/SeqProposals/RhesusMacaqueSEQ021203.pdf
. To learn more about the rapidly expanding field of comparative genomic analysis,
go to: http://www.genome.gov/11509542.
Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center
Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University, St. Louis
J. Craig Venter Institute
NHGRI is one of 27 institutes and centers at NIH, an agency of the Department
of Health and Human Services. The NHGRI Division of Extramural Research supports
grants for research and for training and career development at sites nationwide.
Information about NHGRI can be found at: www.genome.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.