US scientists decode human chromosome 16

Thursday, 23 December 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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LOS ANGELES: Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) have finished sequencing and analysing human chromosome 16.

The findings have been published in the latest issue of the British science journal Nature, reports Xinhua.

The journal went through 78.8 million bases, or letters of DNA code, on chromosome 16. The chromosome contains 880 genes, including those implicated in the development of breast and prostate cancer and adult polycystic kidney disease.

Researchers characterised many regions on chromosome 16 that have been copied to other places within the chromosome and even to the other chromosomes, a phenomenon known as segmental duplication.

They compared these human sequences to regions conserved over time in other vertebrate genomes, including chimpanzee, dog, mouse and chicken, to shed light on changes that have occurred since the last common ancestor, ranging from five million to 400 million years ago.

Chromosome 16 was the original focus of DNA repair gene studies initiated at the Los Alamos National Laboratory of the Department of Energy (DOE) in 1988.

Additional interest stemmed from the discovery of genes on chromosome 16 implicated in the detoxification and transport of heavy metals.

"The Department of Energy is very proud of its historic role in the sequencing of the human genome, and very excited by the advances our pioneering discovery-class science now is making possible in the fields of both medicine and energy," US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said in a statement.

"DOE launched the human genome programme and developed the DNA sequencing and computational technologies that made possible the unravelling of the human genetic code. Now we are using these skills and resources as a powerful tool for clean energy and a cleaner environment," he said.

JGI, based in Walnut Creek, California, is the first of the five primary Human Genome Project sequencing sites to publish scientific articles describing each of the human chromosomes that they sequenced.

DOE's commitment entailed chromosomes 5, 16, and 19, all sequenced by JGI, representing 11 percent of the human genome.

Source: IANS
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