Magazine article Science News

Poodle DNA Compared with That of Mice, People

Magazine article Science News

Poodle DNA Compared with That of Mice, People

Article excerpt

Chihuahuas, Irish wolfhounds, pit bulls, beagles, greyhounds, and more. Man's best friend comes in a range of sizes, shapes, and temperaments unmatched by any other mammalian species. Biologists have now taken a step toward understanding that diversity by conducting a limited, but relatively quick and inexpensive, scan of one dog's full DNA sequence, or genome.

The data from this scan should ultimately help researchers study the more-than-300 human diseases, such as cancer and epilepsy, that also afflict dogs. The new work has already enabled scientists to compare the mouse, dog, and human genomes.

"The sequence of our genome is more similar to the dog's, despite the fact that the dog lineage split off first from the common ancestor," of all three mammals, says Ewen F. Kirkness of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md., who led the dog-genome project. The rodent's unusually high mutation rate has made its DNA diverge more from people's than the dog's DNA has, he explains.

In the strategy pursued by Kirkness' team, biologists isolate copies of an animal's genome and break the strands of DNA into millions of short fragments. After determining the sequence of nucleotides making up each such piece of DNA, biologists use a computer to match overlapping sequences and piece together as much of the animal's full DNA sequence as possible. The more DNA analyzed, the better the chance that the final genome sequence will be accurate and have few gaps. …

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