Obtaining genome sequence information frequently leads to breakthroughs in the study of a particular organism. Bringing agriculturally important plant species into the genomic age is therefore an important goal. However, because they are typically larger or much larger than the 3-billion letter human DNA sequence and have a high proportion of so-called repetitive DNA that is difficult to sequence and contains few coding regions or genes, the genomes of many plants--including most agriculturally important species--have posed significant challenges to researchers interested in crop improvement, plant molecular biology, or genome evolution. A new study by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researchers is a significant step toward overcoming those challenges.
By applying a method they recently developed that captures gene-rich regions and excludes the vast majority of repetitive, gene-poor DNA, Cold Spring Harbor researchers have now achieved a dramatic shortcut to sequencing the genes of corn. The approach should provide a similar boost to the sequencing and comparative analysis of other genomes in a wide variety of biological, biomedical, and biotechnological settings.
The study, led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists W. Richard McCombie and Robert Martienssen, is published in the December 19 issue of Science along with a related study carried out by researchers at The Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland. A key method used in both studies, called methylation filtration, was developed in 1999 by McCombie and Martienssen's groups through work funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Methylation filtration relies on the observation that the DNA of repetitive, gene-poor regions in the corn genome (and other plant genomes) is modified by a process called methylation, whose study has been pioneered in part by Martienssen's group. Methylation filtration takes advantage of this observation to preferentially capture the unmetPage: 1 2 Related biology news :1
Contact: Peter Sherwood
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
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