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Researchers Unveil Puffed-Up Fugu Annotation

SAN FRANCISCO, July 25 - The first-pass annotation of the draft sequence of the Japanese pufferfish Fugu rubripes is now complete, researchers said.

The updatede sequence boosts the coverage to 5.7 fold from the 5.3 announced last October at the13th Genome Sequencing and Analysis Conference, according to Daniel Rokhsar, associate director for computational genomics at the Joint Genome Institute, one of the members of the fugu research consortium.


The 365-megabase fugu sequence has approximately 95 percent coverage with about 80 percent of the assembly in multigene-sized scaffolds, according to the paper.  Approximately 31,000 genes were located and about 75 percent of those genes are identical in amino acids in genes in humans, said Rokhsar.


The current analysis, published in Science Express, has yielded about 950 potential new human genes, said Rokhsar. He added that these fugu genes are also conserved in humans and thus are probably "real," though gene function has yet to be confirmed.


"Fugu has most genes humans have, but it's compressed," explained Eddy Rubin, acting director of JGI. "What's important is there, [and] that which is not important is not there."


Current plans call for linking the entire fugu genome in a continuous sequence by April 2003, said Rubin--just in time for the Human Genome Project to unveil its final human genome sequence.


Science Express anticipates the sequence to be published in Science sometime in August, according to several sources. There is a good chance that the paper will make the cover of Science, said the sources who based their information on interaction with Science editors.


In addition to JGI, other members of the fugu research consortium include the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore; the Salk Institute; the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology; the Institute for Systems Biology; Los Alamos National Laboratory; Myriad Genetics; Celera Genomics' Amersham Biosciences; MRC UK HGMP Resource Centre in Cambridge; and Paradigm Therapeutics.

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