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Newly Sequenced Cat Genome May Enhance Disease, Mammalian Evolution Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - A multi-center team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute has sequenced the genome of the domestic cat, the groups said today.
The first assembly of the genome of Felis catus, performed under the Cat Genome Project, could have “immediate value in many aspects of biology, particularly in discovery of genetic basis of hereditary and infectious diseases,” according to an article published in today’s issue of Genome Research.  
The genome suggests that it could not only help veterinary medicine, but also serve as a model for human disease because domestic cats have 250 genetic pathologies that are similar to many that occur in humans.
The 1.9x genome annotation estimates the genome to be around 2.7 Gbp, which the researchers guessed by extrapolating the length of the cat sequence to homologous stretches in dog and human genomes, which are around 2.4 Gbp and 2.8 Gbp, respectively.
The resulting data could help researchers better understand how this and other mammals evolved and reconstruct chromosome exchanges “that punctuate mammal evolution,” the report concludes.
The donor DNA for the project came from a 4-year old Abyssinian cat called Cinnamon that has documented ancestry going back several generations. The researchers compared Cinnamon’s sequence against other mammalian genomes, including dog, rat, mouse, human, and chimpanzee.
The researchers were also able to identify around 20,285 putative genes in the cat genome that revealed chromosomal rearrangements that happened since mammals split from a common ancestor around 100 million years ago.

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