Domestic Cat Genome Sequenced

The DNA of a 4-year-old female Abyssinian cat named
Cinnamon has been sequenced, according to a report in
an  issue of Genome Research, which details the first
assembly, annotation, and comparative analysis of the
domestic cat genome.

The genome sequence analysis is expected to lead to
health benefits for domestic cats. Researchers also hope
the cat genome may help in the fight against several
human diseases, which is one reason why the National
Human Genome Research Institute authorized the cat
genome sequencing project in 2005.

Domestic cats possess over 250 naturally occurring
hereditary disorders, many of which are similar to genetic
pathologies in humans. Cinnamon's pedigree, for example,
carries a genetic mutation that causes retinitis pigmentosa.
In humans, retinitis pigmentosa affects 1 in 3,500
Americans. The domestic cat also serves as an excellent
model for human infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Cinnamon, whose lineage can be traced back several
generations to Sweden, lives in a cat colony maintained at
the University of Missouri-Columbia. To make sense of her
raw sequence data, an international team of scientists
used information from previously sequenced mammalian
genomes as well as previous gene-mapping studies in
cats. In doing so, they found that Cinnamon's sequences
spanned about 65 percent of the gene-containing regions
of the feline genome.

The similarity between the cat genome and six recently
completed mammalian genomes—human, chimpanzee,
mouse, rat, dog, and cow—allowed the scientists to identify
20,285 putative genes in the cat genome. Although
incomplete, these genetic pictures can show scientists can
reveal which DNA regions were conserved across
mammalian species as they evolved from a common
                                                                                              February 2008
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