The 67 researchers who took part in the Chimp Sequencing and Analysis Consortium share authorship of the Nature paper. Most of the work of sequencing and assembling the chimp genome was done at the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., and the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis. In addition to those centers, the consortium included researchers from institutions elsewhere in the United States, as well as Israel, Italy, Germany and Spain.
The DNA used to sequence the chimp genome came from the blood of a male chimpanzee named Clint at theYerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. Clint died last year from heart failure at the relatively young age of 24, but two cell lines from the primate have been preserved at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J.
The consortium found that the chimp and human genomes are very similar and encode very similar proteins. The DNA sequence that can be directly compared between the two genomes is almost 99 percent identical. When DNA insertions and deletions are taken into account, humans and chimps still share 96 percent of their sequence. At the protein level, 29 percent of genes code for the same amino sequences in chimps and humans. In fact, the typical human protein has accumulated just one unique change since chimps and humans diverged from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago.
To put this into perspective, the number of genetic differences between humans and chimps is approximately 60 times less than that seen between human and mouse and about 10 times less than between the mouse and rat. On the other hand, the number of genetic differences between a human and a chimp is about 10 times more than between any two humans.
The researchers discovered that a few classes of genes are changing unusually quickly in both humans and chimpanzees compared with other mamm
Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute