SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singaporean scientists
released the genetic blueprint of the Japanese pufferfish on
Friday, saying it will help speed up understanding of the human
The Japanese pufferfish, or Fugu rubripes, is the first vertebrate
genome sequence to be completed after the map of the human
genetic code was unveiled earlier this year.
"This will help us to understand the human genome better and
faster," Dr. Bryrappa Venkatesh of Singapore's Institute of
Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) told Reuters.
The Fugu Genome Project consortium was lead by the IMCB and
the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, which
was involved in decoding the human genetic blueprint.
The Singapore team has spent 11 years on the project.
The fugu, a popular Japanese delicacy which puffs up into
a spiky baseball-sized globe when threatened, is expected
to provide vital clues to how human genes are regulated. The
fugu is separated from humans by a 450-million-year evolutionary
gap. Similar regulatory sequences found between the two are
believed to be essential for survival.
At about one-eighth the size of the human genome, the fugu's
is the smallest known genome of all vertebrates, making the
discovery of genes and regulatory sequences a much easier
DNA between two genes contain the regulatory elements for
an organism. In the fugu, this region is concise and contains
none of the repetitive elements humans have.
"It helps the understanding of how human genes are regulated
and what human genes do, because the fugu (sequence) is very
compact and all the functionally significant sequences are
conserved," Venkatesh said.
The fugu genome sequence will be made freely available for
public use. But scientists can file patents on gene function
discoveries which may offer new drug targets after studying
the fugu genome.
The IMCB has filed for one patent so far, Venkatesh said.