In a similar vein in October, colleagues at Brown and Women & Infants Hospital reported sequencing the transcriptome of human egg cells and, in another first, their sidecar-like "polar bodies." Their key insight: Expendable polar bodies reflect the gene expression of the precious eggs, making them potentially good, nondestructive indicators of which egg to choose for in vitro fertilization.
Only by seeing all the transcripts of all the genes in the mouse retina, and their full sequences, for example, could Morrow and Gamsiz have learned that disease genes are significantly longer, more likely to be transcribed in different ways, and expressed more abundantly.
"I think expression microarrays are becoming a little outdated," Morrow said. "Not that we didn't do well with them. But with them you are missing what you are not looking for because you don't know what's out there."
What makes next-generation sequencing, in this case on an Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx, work better than the slow, labor-intensive and expensive technology used for sequencing just 10 years ago is partly that it sequences a large number of DNA or RNA fragments in parallel, vastly increasing the sequencing system's throughput.
"The technology is amazing, it's a game changer," Morrow said. "In terms of molecular approaches to gene expression, genetics, and genomics it's like a new day. The data are truly beautiful."
As that metaphorical first light shines on the mouse retina transcriptome, an improved understanding of the genetics of neural disease may dawn with it.
|Contact: David Orenstein|