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Singapore Genome Institute Joins SARS Sequencing Fray

NEW YORK, April 16 - The Genome Institute of Singapore is currently sequencing the coronavirus now known to be the viral agent in Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome, and has identified a gene in the virus that is responsible for encoding RNA polymerase, the Institute said today.


The institute expects to have the entire genome of the SARS virus sequenced within a week.

Although scientists at the British Columbia Cancer Center and the US Centers for Disease Control have already obtained complete sequences of the virus, the Genome Institute of Singapore is studying a viral isolate from a local patient in Singapore, and having the full sequence of the additional isolate will help scientists around the globe gain more information about the virus' nature and origin.


"Scientists at the GIS are currently working round the clock on sequencing the SARS virus and understanding more about the disease," Daniel Lum, a spokesman for the institute, told GenomeWeb.

The RNA polymerase gene is 4,500 nucleotides long, and is unique, although similar to those in other coronaviruses, according to the institute. Yesterday, Steven Jones, head of the bioinformatics team at the University of British Columbia which first assembled the genome, said that many of its genes appeared to lack close homology to known coronavirus genes.


GenomeWeb coverage of SARS
Canadian Team Sequencing SARS Virus  (Apr 9, 2003)
CDC Hails SARS Virus Sequencing, Discusses PCR Diagnostic Development   (Apr 14, 2003)
Canadian Team Leader: SARS Coronavirus Genome Has 11 Novel ORFs  (April 15, 2003)
CombiMatrix Creates Microarray Based on SARS Genome Data  (April 16, 2003)
Coronavirus Linked to SARS: WHO (April 16, 2003)