Fly Genome Finished

Rcjohnsen rcjohnsen at
Fri Feb 25 17:58:18 EST 2000

News	From the SCiENCE newsroom
Posted 18 February 2000, 5 pm PST

	Fruit Fly Genome Finished

Washington, D.C.--The humble fruit fly has taken the lead in the genome race.
Using an approach that was publicly trounced less than 2 years ago, a
public-private collaboration has practically finished sequencing the organism's
genome, the largest bagged so far. The feat was announced here today at the
annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
which publishes ScienceNOW. 
      Celera Genomics in Rockville, Maryland, working with scientists at
several academic centers, determined 97% of the 120 million bases that make up
the gene-containing regions of Drosophila's genome--a percentage many
researchers agree is high enough to consider the job done. Most of the
remaining 3% should be finished in the next few months, said Celera's Mark
Adams. The rest of the genome, some 60 million bases, contains repetitive and
noncoding DNA that is beyond the reach of current sequencing technology and of
less interest to researchers. 
      Studying mutations in fruit flies has helped geneticists understand how
genes work for almost a century. In recent years, they have realized that many
of those genes have counterparts in other organisms, including humans, making
the fruit fly an even more valuable research tool. Having the fruit fly
sequence "is going to transform the way we do research," says geneticist
Lawrence Goldstein of the University of California (UC), San Diego. 
      Celera's success in the fruit fly may help convince skeptics of the
usefulness of the company's "whole genome shotgun approach," in which an
organism's DNA is chopped into countless small pieces for sequencing and then
reassembled by a powerful computer. When Celera president J. Craig Venter
announced in May 1998 that he intended to sequence the human genome this way,
rivaling genome scientists were highly skeptical. Many predicted Venter would
be unable to put the millions of pieces back together correctly, and that many
gaps would remain in the finished sequence. But thanks in part to a computer
program developed by Celera bioinformaticist Gene Myers, the approach "worked
better than anyone expected," says UC Berkeley geneticist Gerald Rubin. 
      Some 1600 gaps remain in the sequence, but already gene-finding computer
programs and other analyses suggest the fruit fly could have as many as 13,000
genes. Researchers have no idea about the function of almost half of them,
Adams said. But some key genes "popped right out," he added, such as the
long-sought fruit fly equivalent of the tumor suppressor gene p53. And having
the sequences of all the genes, says Goldstein, is going to make research
"catapult ahead." 
      --Elizabeth Pennisi 
Definitions from the AP Dictionary of Science and Technology

Related Pages on APNet

*	Budnik/Gramates: Neuromuscular Junctions in Drosophila 
*	Echalier: Drosophila Cells in Culture  
*	Hoy: Insect Molecular Genetics  
*	Lindsley/Zimm: The Genome of Drosophila melanogaster  
*	Bishop: Genetics Databases  
*	Calladine/Drew: Understanding DNA  
*	Genomics  
*	Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  
*	Molecular Therapy  

Related links from the article above:

*	American Association for the Advancement of Science  
*	Celera Genomics  
*	University of California, San Diego  
*	University of California at Berkeley  
*	FlyBase  
*	Flybrain  
*	Interactive Fly  
*	Drosophila Virtual Library  
*	Genome Database  
*	Genetic Science Learning Center  
*	Primer on Molecular Genetics  
*	Genetics Society of America  

© 1999 The American Association for the Advancement of Science
This item is supplied by the AAAS Science News Service
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