No. 12/April 29, 2008

New Tool Scans the Genome for Disease-relevant Variations

Genome Map

With the genome map researchers can detect genetic variations (SNPs, labelled in green, red and blue) on the rat’s chromosomes (labelled in black and white). (Graph: Matthias Heinig/Copyright: MDC)

Investigating the genetic background of major diseases has now become easier. As part of a European-Japanese Consortium (STAR), Dr. Kathrin Saar and Prof. Norbert Hübner from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have constructed a genome map with more than 300 different rat strains. The researchers are convinced that this new tool can help understand the development of cardiovascular diseases or diabetes in laboratory rats as well as in humans. The paper of the STAR consortium has been published online in the current issue of the journal Nature Genetics* (Vol. 40, No. 5, pp. 560 – 566, 2008).


Laboratory rats are particularly suited for analyzing the genetic causes of epidemiological-relevant diseases. For over 150 years, scientists have been using laboratory rats as model animals in clinical research laboratories. It is known that the DNA sequence of every organism shows natural variations called “single nucleotide polymorphisms” or SNPs. Typically, the genome of an individual has several million SNPs and, thus, he or she differs at this level from others within the same species. Scientists investigate these SNPs to clarify whether they are linked to or influence the development of certain diseases. The MDC researchers and their colleagues in Europe and Japan have now identified three million SNPs in the genome of the rat. Thus, they were able to expand and improve upon the existing genomic map which until now was based on the analyses of only three rat strains.




SNP and haplotype mapping for genetic analysis in the rat

The STAR Consortium1

The complete list of authors is as follows:

The STAR Consortium: Kathrin Saar1, Alfred Beck2, Marie-Thérèse Bihoreau3, Ewan Birney4, Denise Brocklebank3, Yuan Chen4, Edwin Cuppen5, Stephanie Demonchy6, Paul Flicek4, Mario Foglio6, Asao Fujiyama7,8, Ivo G. Gut6, Dominique Gauguier3, Roderic Guigo9, Victor Guryev5, Matthias Heinig1, Oliver Hummel1, Niels Jahn10, Sven Klages2, Vladimir Kren11, Heiner Kuhl2, Takashi Kuramoto12, Yoko Kuroki7, Doris Lechner6, Young-Ae Lee1, Nuria Lopez-Bigas9, G. Mark Lathrop6, Tomoji Mashimo12, Michael Kube2, Richard Mott3, Giannino Patone1, Jeanne-Antide Perrier-Cornet6, Matthias Platzer10, Michal Pravenec11, Richard Reinhardt2, Yoshiyuki Sakaki7, Markus Schilhabel10, Herbert Schulz1, Tadao Serikawa12, Medya Shikhagaie9, Shouji Tatsumoto7, Stefan Taudien10, Atsushi Toyoda7, Birger Voigt12, Diana Zelenika6, Heike Zimdahl1 & Norbert Hübner1


1Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Robert-Roessle-Strasse 10, 13125, Berlin, Germany. 2Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany. 3Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. 4European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, UK. 5Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, The Netherlands. 6CEA/Institut de Génomique, Centre National de Génotypage, Evry, France. 7RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center, Kanagawa 230-0045, Japan. 8National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo 101-8430, Japan. 9Centre de Regulacio Genomica, Barcelona, Spain. 10Leibniz-Institut für Altersforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut, Jena, Germany. 11Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences and 1st Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. 12Institute of Laboratory Animals, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshidakonoe-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Barbara Bachtler

Press and Public Affairs

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch

Robert-Rössle-Straße 10; 13125 Berlin; Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96

Fax:  +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33




Variations in the Genome


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