The second project chosen for its considerable medical relevance to humans will identify 280,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms, known as "SNPs," in the genomes of eight different strains of laboratory rats. SNPs can be used as markers to zero in on genetic variations that may affect an individual's risk of developing common, complex illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes and cancer. Building a catalog of rat SNPs will assist researchers trying to find genetic variations associated with common, complex diseases in rats, which can then be used to help identify similar genetic variations that may be involved in human disease.
The eight rat strains selected are the PVG strain, commonly used as a healthy control in studies; the F344 strain, used in toxicological and pharmacological studies; the SS strain, used for cardiovascular disease studies; the LEW strain, often used in studies of transplants and immune response; the BB strain, used in studies of diabetes; the FHH strain, also used for cardiovascular studies; the DA strain, used for studies of arthritis and cancer; and the SHR strain, used in studies of hypertension.
"The overriding goal of sequencing the genomes of a diverse set of organisms is to understand the biological processes at work in human health and illness," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "It is also gratifying to know that these tools, freely available to the entire biomedical research community, can be used in other scientific fields to further improve animal and human welfare."
Another set of 11 non-mammalian organisms were strategically chosen, each representing a position on the evolutionary timeline marked by important innovations in animal anatomy, physiology, development or behavior. The organisms are: a skate (Raja erinacea); a sea slug (Aply
Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute