September 16, 2011
Researchers Sequence DNA Of 17 Common Types Of Lab Mice
An international team of researchers have sequenced the genomes of 17 different strains of mice in what the National Science Foundation (NSF) is calling "an achievement that lays the groundwork for the identification of genes responsible for“¦ diseases that afflict both mice and humans."
The work, which was spearheaded by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Oxford, gives researchers the genetic blueprints of multiple varieties of common lab mice. According to the Sanger Institute, the research has resulted in "the biggest catalogue for any vertebrate model organism" and will "accelerate future research and understanding of human genetics."
In two different papers published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the researchers revealed that they discovered more than 700 mutations and biological differences, including genetic markers for heart disease and diabetes. They cataloged a total of 56.7 million unique sites of variation (also known as SNPs), as well as some additional, more complex differences.
"We are living in an era where we have thousands of human genomes at our finger tips," Dr. David Adams, representing the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said in a statement. "The mouse, and the genome sequences we have generated, will play a critical role in understanding of how genetic variation contributes to disease and will lead us towards new therapies."
One of the key contributions of this research will be the time it saves scientists in the future, according to the Sanger Institute. Now, instead of having to breed mice to find mutations, they will be able to search a computer database in order to find the mutations they need.
"Mice are the premier model organism for human disease. We've made a lot of progress in understanding the genetics of common human diseases by studying mice," said Bret Payseur, an associate professor of medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health who assisted with the project. "Although we've been able to map genomic regions that contribute to disease risk, we haven't known the full spectrum of mutations involved."
Other institutions participating in the study included the University of California, the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, and the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge. The project was funded in part by the Medical Research Council and also received financial support from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
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