Studies expand understanding of X chromosome

BETHESDA, Md., Wed., March 16 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) hailed the first comprehensive analysis of the sequence of the human X chromosome, saying that this provides sweeping new insights into the evolution of sex chromosomes and the biological differences between males and females. These studies, a detailed analysis of the X chromosome's DNA sequence and a survey of its gene activity, are published in the current issue of the journal Nature.

"These detailed analyses of the X chromosome represent a monumental achievement for biology and medicine. They are exciting examples of what is being learned from the vast trove of sequence data produced by the Human Genome Project and made freely available to researchers around the world," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of NIH, which led the U.S. component of the Human Genome Project along with the Department of Energy.

The sequencing work on the X chromosome was carried out as part of the Human Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin; the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Jena, Germany; and Applied Biosystems, Inc., Foster City, CA.

In the first study, an international team of more than 250 genomic researchers led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute described an analysis of the complete DNA sequence of the human X chromosome. In humans and other mammals, sexual identity is governed by a pair of chromosomes referred to as "X" and "Y." Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.

One of the central goals of the effort to analyze the human genome is the identification of all genes, which are generally defined as stretches of DNA that code for particular proteins. The new analys

Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

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