Horse genome assembled

BETHESDA, Md., Wed., Feb. 7, 2007 The first draft of the horse genome sequence has been deposited in public databases and is freely available for use by biomedical and veterinary researchers around the globe, leaders of the international Horse Genome Sequencing Project announced today.

The $15 million effort to sequence the approximately 2.7 billion DNA base pairs in the genome of the horse (Equus caballus) was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A team led by Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Ph.D., at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., carried out the sequencing and assembly of the horse genome.

Approximately 300,000 Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) end sequences, which provide continuity when assembling a large genome sequence, were contributed to the horse sequencing project by Ottmar Distl, D.V.M., Ph.D. and Tosso Leeb, Ph.D., from the University of Veterinary Medicine, in Hanover, Germany and Helmut Blcker, Ph.D., from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany. Production of the BAC end sequences was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the State of Lower Saxony.

Sequencing of the domestic horse genome began in 2006, building upon a 10-year collaborative effort among an international group of scientists to use genomics to address important health issues for equines, known as the Horse Genome Project (www.uky.edu/Ag/Horsemap/). The horse whose DNA was used in the sequencing effort is a Thoroughbred mare named Twilight from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Researchers obtained the DNA from a small sample of the animal's blood. To download a high-resolution photo of Twilight, go to http://www.genome.gov/pressDisplay.cfm?photoID=

Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

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