Sunday, July 23, 2006
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced several new sequencing targets including the Northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys), setting the stage for completing a quest to sequence the genome of at least one non-human primate genome from each of the major positions along the evolutionary primate tree and making available an essential resource for researchers unraveling the genetic factors involved in human health and disease. Comparing the genomes of other species to humans is an exceptionally powerful tool to help researchers understand the working parts of the human genome in both health and illness.
NHGRI's Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network and their international partners have already sequenced - or have been approved to sequence - at high-density coverage the genomes of several non-human primates including the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) and the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla).
"The gibbon genome sequence will provide researchers with crucial information when comparing it to the human genome sequence and other primate genomes, shedding light on molecular mechanisms implicated in human health and disease - from infectious diseases and neurological disorders to mental illness and cancer," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
The gibbon genome is unique because it carries an extraordinary high number of chromosome rearrangements, even when compared to other primates.