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Illinois pig to make history as source of first complete swine genome

A pig used for research at the University of Illinois atUrbana-Champaign has a home in history. Its DNA will provide the first sequence of the swine genome to be completed with the help of a two-year $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today (Jan. 13) by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Lawrence B. Schook, a professor of animal sciences at Illinois and co-chairman of the International Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium, will head the project that is expected to cost $20 million and involve researchers at seven other institutions.

Sequencing of the some 2.5 billion chemical base pairs that spell out the pig's genetic code will be done at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom. The groundwork for the project has grown over time at Illinois, through extensive swine research, the development of genetic tools and a campus commitment to pursue genome-related research with the establishment of the Institute for Genomic Biology, Schook said.

Last year Schook and Jonathan Beever, a professor of animal sciences, announced that a side-by-side comparison of the human and pig genome revealed remarkable similarities. They rearranged 173 pieces of the human genome to make a map of a pig.

"Now we can take all of the pieces and put them into their correct order and know the exact DNA sequence in each piece," Schook said. "We were able to build a map to know what parts of the pig genome were equivalent to the same parts of the human genome. Now we can take those parts and compare them sequence by sequence."

Schook, Beever and Bruce Schatz, interim head of the department of medical information science in the U. of I. College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign, will continue an ongoing collaboration with Jane Rogers and Sean Humphray at the Sanger Institute to provide an initial three-fold coverage of the pig genome sequence.

As the sequencing proceeds, the data will be mined on campus at
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Source:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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