A large team of researchers, including a computer scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, has effectively completed the genome sequence of the common laboratory brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. This makes the third mammal to be sequenced, following the human and mouse.
The Rat Genome Sequencing Project Consortium (RGSPC), led by the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM-HGSC) in Houston, in conjunction with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), announced today the generation and analysis of the genome sequence of the Brown Norway (BN) rat. The high quality 'draft' sequence covers over 90 percent of the genome. The primary results are presented in the April 1 issue of Nature, and an additional thirty manuscripts describing further detailed analyses are contained in the April issue of Genome Research.
"This is an investment that is destined to yield major payoffs in the fight against human disease," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "For nearly 200 years, the laboratory rat has played a valuable role in efforts to understand human biology and to develop new and better drugs. Now, armed with this sequencing data, a new generation of researchers will be able to greatly improve the utility of rat models and thereby improve human health."
The laboratory rat is an indispensable tool in experimental medicine and drug development and has made inestimable contributions to human health. The new data expand and consolidate its role as a research resource. The BN rat sequence is the third complete mammalian genome to be sequenced to high quality and described in a major scientific publication. Three-way comparisons with the human and mouse genomes will help to resolve details of mammalian evolution.