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Shedding genomic light on Aristotle's lantern.

Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Alkek N1519, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Developmental Biology (Impact Factor: 3.64). 01/2007; 300(1):2-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.10.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sea urchins have proved fascinating to biologists since the time of Aristotle who compared the appearance of their bony mouth structure to a lantern in The History of Animals. Throughout modern times it has been a model system for research in developmental biology. Now, the genome of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus is the first echinoderm genome to be sequenced. A high quality draft sequence assembly was produced using the Atlas assembler to combine whole genome shotgun sequences with sequences from a collection of BACs selected to form a minimal tiling path along the genome. A formidable challenge was presented by the high degree of heterozygosity between the two haplotypes of the selected male representative of this marine organism. This was overcome by use of the BAC tiling path backbone, in which each BAC represents a single haplotype, as well as by improvements in the Atlas software. Another innovation introduced in this project was the sequencing of pools of tiling path BACs rather than individual BAC sequencing. The Clone-Array Pooled Shotgun Strategy greatly reduced the cost and time devoted to preparing shotgun libraries from BAC clones. The genome sequence was analyzed with several gene prediction methods to produce a comprehensive gene list that was then manually refined and annotated by a volunteer team of sea urchin experts. This latter annotation community edited over 9000 gene models and uncovered many unexpected aspects of the sea urchin genetic content impacting transcriptional regulation, immunology, sensory perception, and an organism's development. Analysis of the basic deuterostome genetic complement supports the sea urchin's role as a model system for deuterostome and, by extension, chordate development.

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