Third primate genome, the rhesus macaque, helps illuminate what makes us human

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Researchers have sequenced the genome of the relatively ancient rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), providing perspective into how humans are genetically different from our primate relatives. In addition to benefiting human health research in areas as diverse as HIV and aging, the genome enhances understanding of primate evolution. The macaque genome research appears in the 13 April issue of Science published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

"The rhesus macaque genome helps illuminate what makes humans different from other apes," said Richard A. Gibbs, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center and the project leader of the Rhesus Macaque Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium. "It allows us to learn what has been added or deleted in primate evolution from the rhesus macaque to the chimpanzee to the human."

The Rhesus Macaque Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium, an international team of more than 170 scientists from 35 institutions, describes their results in a special issue of Science devoted to the macaque genome. The issue consists of a primary Research Article that reports the key findings and four supplementary Reports.

"We want to know what makes us human," Gibbs explained. The human genome, sequenced in 2001 began providing many clues, but researchers knew they would benefit by having other genomes for comparison. In 2005, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) genome allowed scientists to investigate which genes humans shared with this relative, from whom we diverged 6 million years ago.

The macaque is a more ancient rel

Contact: Natasha Pinol
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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