PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] The population of Eric Morrow's seminar "Neurogenetics and Disease" comprises mainly undergraduates who were skipping down the halls of their elementary schools when the first drafts of human genome sequences were published. When Morrow, assistant professor of biology, recently asked the class how to find the mutation behind a disease, a hand shot up in the back of the class to signal the answer: "Sequence the patient's genome."
Ah, to be 19 and take gene sequencing for granted. Fifteen years ago the student's answer would have been unthinkable. Five years ago, it would have been possible, but prohibitively expensive and cumbersome.
Now, armed with so-called "next-generation sequencing" technology, which brings the costs down to thousands rather than hundreds of millions of dollars, Morrow and other properly equipped researchers are obtaining detailed and comprehensive genetic sequences of cells from tissues of interest with relative ease.
In a new study, published in the journal Genomics, Morrow led a research group that has for the first time sequenced the entire "transcriptome" all the messenger RNA transcribed from the DNA that codes proteins of the mouse neural retina. Morrow's overall goal is to investigate the genetic nature of disease in neural tissue and sure enough, the research has yielded some intriguing clues, Morrow said. He added that he will publicly share the entire dataset.
"The reason we studied the neural retina is that we wanted to ask: Is there anything different about those genes that cause disease in the nervous system and all of the other genes in the genome," Morrow said. "There were some fairly prominent differences."
Insights in the mouse retina
The study team, including first author and postdoctoral scholar Ece Gamsiz, produced four main insights:
Although only 114 of 15,251 genes are known to be associated with di
|Contact: David Orenstein|