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Dogs, Humans Share Many Genes, Researchers Find

September 26, 2003|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The gene map of man's best friend shows dogs are closely related to people and will add insights into our own genetics, scientists said Thursday.

The method used to map out the canine genes is much quicker than that used to sequence humans and offers a fast way to look at other mammals, the scientists said.

"It is a new method for the rapid characterization of genomes," said J. Craig Venter, whose Center for the Advancement of Genomics in Rockville, Md., paid for the study.

"Once we had done the human and the mouse, all the other mammalian genomes could be assembled on them. We can do five species for every one being done in the current government effort."

Venter, who used cells from his own poodle for the project, said it is not a painstakingly detailed map. "Does it give you every last bit [of information]? No. But it gives you so much information."

The research, led by Ewen F. Kirkness of the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, was published in the journal Science.

The study found that out of 24,000 clearly identified human genes, at least 18,000 are shared with dogs.

The researchers hope to gain some insight into what makes a Labrador want to swim and a border collie want to herd things. They have identified 974,400 single nucleotide polymorphisms in the dog. These tiny changes in the genetic code, which underlie such things as eye color and tendency to disease, may also help explain the differences among breeds.

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