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Analysis of rhesus monkey genome uncovers genetic differences with humans, chimps

An international consortium of researchers has published the genome sequence of the rhesus macaque monkey and aligned it with the chimpanzee and human genomes. Published April 13 in a special section of the journal Science, the analysis reveals that the three primate species share about 93 percent of their DNA, yet have some significant differences among their genes.

In its paper, the Rhesus Macaque Genome Sequence and Analysis Consortium, supported in part by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), compared the genome sequences of rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) with that of human (Homo sapiens) and chimp (Pan troglodytes), the primate most closely related to humans. Four companion papers that relied on the rhesus sequence also appear in the same issue.

The rhesus genome is the second non-human primate, after the chimp, to have its genome sequenced and is the first of Old World monkeys to have its DNA deciphered.

"The sequencing of the rhesus macaque genome, combined with the availability of the chimp and human genomes, provides researchers with another powerful tool to advance our understanding of human biology in health and disease," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "As we build upon the foundation laid by the Human Genome Project, it has become clear that comparing our genome with the genomes of other organisms is crucial to identifying what makes the human genome unique."

The rhesus, because of its response to the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), is widely recognized as the best animal model for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The rhesus genome sequence will also serve to enhance essential research in neuroscience, behavioral biology, reproductive physiology, endocrinology and cardiovascular studies. In addition, the rhesus serves as a valuable model for studying other human infectious diseases and for vaccine research.
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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