Comparisons of the new mouse genome sequence

Hot on the heels of the mouse genome sequence published in this week's Nature by the Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium of publicly funded laboratories, Genome Biology publishes the first comparison of this 'public' mouse genome sequence with the mouse genome sequence generated by the private company Celera, and with the human genome. In this article, Michael Zhang and his colleagues from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York, USA) identify over 6,000 potentially novel genes by analysing the similarities between the different genome sequences. The two mouse sequences are broadly similar but differ in total by about 10%. Zhang and colleagues also estimate the number of protein-coding genes in human at 37,000, of which 30,000 are similar to those found in mice.

The sequencing of the mouse genome is a major milestone in modern biology as it is the only mammalian genome, other than human, to have been sequenced. The mouse genome will help the research effort to interpret the human genome sequence because the mouse carries a very similar set of genes to humans. For many human diseases, major breakthroughs have come from the study of mouse disease models. The availability of the mouse sequence will now help identify the part played by genetics in many human diseases, leading to better understanding of disease and both improved diagnostic tests and treatments.

Zhang and colleagues are the first researchers to compare these different genome sequences. As this is just the beginning of a new era of comparative mammalian genomics, they hope that their preliminary work will provide a springboard to further our understanding. Because it is so important for progress that all data are made freely available, Zhang and colleagues are making their database of conserved sequence elements available to all over the web, and they have chosen to publish their research in a journal that provides free full-text access to all research articles immediately on publication

Contact: Gordon Fletcher
BioMed Central

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