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

The sequencing of the rhesus genome was conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., which are part of the NHGRI-supported Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network. The DNA used in the sequencing was obtained from a female rhesus macaque at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (NPRC) in San Antonio, which is supported by the National Center for Research Resources, part of NIH. Independent assemblies of the rhesus genome data were carried out at each of the three sequencing centers using different and complementary approaches and then combined into a single "melded assembly." In their analysis, scientists from 35 institutions compared this melded assembly to the reference sequence of the human genome, a newer unpublished draft sequence of the chimp genome, the sequence of more than a dozen other more distant species already in the public databases, the human HapMap, and the Human Gene Mutation Database that lists known human mutations that lead to genetic disease.

"This study of the rhesus genome is invaluable because it gives researchers a perspective to observe what has been added or deleted in each primate genome during evolution of rhesus, chimp, and the human from their common ancestors ," said Richard Gibbs, Ph.D., director of Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston and the project leader.

One of the most useful features of the rhesus genome is that it is less closely related to the human genome than to the chimp genome. This means that important features that have been conserved in primates over time can be more easily seen by comparing rhesus to human, than chimp to human.

By adding the rhesus genome to the primate comparison, researchers identified nearly 200 genes likely to be key players i
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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