In an experiment that demonstrates how maps of the genetic codes of simpler organisms can shed light on human disease, a computerized comparison of the complete genetic codes of a type of algae, a weed and humans has led medical researchers to a gene linked to a human illness.
The comparison allowed researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to locate human genes that code for proteins likely to become part of hair-like structures on cells known as cilia or flagella. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University used the findings to pin down the location of a gene that contributes to Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS), a rare genetic condition that causes blindness, mental retardation, severe obesity and many other problems.
The genetic comparison was arranged by Susan Dutcher, Ph.D., professor of genetics and of cell biology and physiology at Washington University. Dutcher studies cilia in the green alga Chlamydomonas. The work will be published in the May 14 issue of Cell.
Michael C. Purdy | WUSTL
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