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Rat Sequence Ahead of Schedule; 7X Coverage of 90% of Genome Expected Next Year

COLD SPRING HARBOR, NY, May 10 - The Rat Genome Sequencing Project is ahead of schedule and expects to have the sequence completed sometime next year, a scientist working on the project told GenomeWeb this morning.


Progress in the first year of the project has "greatly exceeded expectation," said Doug Smith of Genome Therapeutics Corporation. Baylor College of Medicine is coordinating the project and performing the BAC sequences, according to a researcher from the Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. He spoke here at Cold Spring Harbor Lab's 2002 Genome Sequence & Biology meeting.


Indeed, by the end of March the project produced a 4x total sequence coverage, 10,000 BAC skims, as well as BES and DNA fingerprinting of two BAC libraries to reach 10X clone coverage. The team has also build a new assembler called ATLAS to help with the work, and has assembled more than 1.5 gb of the genome into BAC bins by combining the skims with the WGS data.


"We now expect that by the end of the [two-year project] we will have an approximately 7X coverage and greater than 20,000 BAC skims assembled into sequence contigs of average length [of] larger than 50 kb and scaffolds of more than 5 mb, covering more than 90 percent of the genome," project researchers wrote in an abstract that accompanied Smith's talk.


The rat project was formed in early 2001 and is funded by the NHGRI and the NHLBI. Many researchers believe the rat genome is as important as the widely publicized mouse when it comes to genomic research. In fact, one source mentioned that a recent Medline search of rat produced 1 million hits--some 60 percent more than what turned up for a mouse search.

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