Partial Cat Genome Sequenced, May Aid Human Medicine

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Though incomplete, these genetic pictures can show scientists which regions of DNA were conserved across mammalian species as they evolved from a common ancestor.

The partial genomes "can provide an evolutionary perspective on the human genome," Felsenfeld said.

Compared to other mammals, cats and humans have remained genetically similar to their ancient common ancestor and to each other, study co-author O'Brien said.

"Humans and cats are reflecting pretty much the organization that was [created] a long time ago and subsequently passed down," he said.

"That's not the case in dogs or even in gibbons, where chromosome exchanges [over millions of years of evolution] have reshuffled the deck like a card game at a casino.

"So the human and the cat share a remarkable similarity in terms of the order and pattern of the way genes are laid down in chromosomes."

But Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said that that the new view of the cat genome isn't complete enough to draw very many conclusions.

"Parts of [many animal genomes] are actually quite highly duplicated," he said.

Genomes duplicate naturally, and when they do they increase the potential for mutations to arise.

"These parts [of the genome] are rapidly changing and tend to be very interesting in evolution—[but] you don't get those unless you do a thorough sequencing job."

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