By Matthew Willett

Celera Genomics said Friday it¿s one step removed from offering an annotated mouse genome with sixfold coverage.

The Rockville, Md., company began the process about a year ago, and has since sequenced the 129X1/SvJ, DBA/2J and A/J mouse strains. What remains for the company now is the annotation of the genome to refine the number and function of mouse genes.

Celera¿s vice president of sales and marketing, Jason Molle, told BioWorld Today his company is the only source with an assembled mouse genome, available immediately.

¿The significance of the mouse genome itself is important, but what¿s more important and what gets our customers exceptionally excited is the integration of the mouse genome with the human genome, and unleashing the power of comparative genomics,¿ Molle said.

The sequencing encompassed more than 15.9 billion base pairs of mouse genomic data, and the company said that the coverage of the mouse genome is sixfold now. The mouse genome contains a total of about 2.6 billion base pairs, ensuring, the company said, greater than 99 percent representation for the mouse genome.

Comparatively, the human genome contains about 2.9 billion base pairs. In the three mouse strains Celera used, it has identified about 2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms.

Celera¿s sequencing method, Whole Genome Shotgun Sequencing, makes use of random shearing of chromosomes. The technique was pioneered at The Institute for Genomic Research in 1995 during its first-ever sequencing of a living organism.

In the mouse genome sequencing, Celera sheared mouse chromosomes into millions of pieces containing 2,000, 10,000 or 50,000 base pairs. Those fragments were inserted into a plasmid vector and propagated in Escherichia coli to produce millions of copies.

From 27.45 million sequence reads, the company generated 15.9 billion base pairs of mouse DNA, then assembled the letters of genetic code in their proper order using a whole genome assembly algorithm, reconstructing the linear sequence of the 20 pairs of mouse chromosomes.

Celera is a business unit of Applera Corp., of Norwalk, Conn. Its stock (NYSE:CRA) rose $2.59 Friday on the news, closing at $37.99.

The company offers subscriptions to its annotated databases of human and animal genomes, the Celara Discovery System. It recently formed subscription deals with Emory University, of Atlanta; the Van Andel Institute, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Vita Genomics, of Taiwan; Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego; Genset SA, of Paris; the Weizmann Institute of Science, of Rehovot, Israel; the California Institute of Technology, of Pasadena, Calif.; and the Institute for Genomic Research, of Rockville, Md.

Molle said the next step, in addition to adding new customers and new tools to the Celera Discovery System, is to add new organisms.

¿We are the only source for the whole assembled mouse genome,¿ Molle said. ¿It¿s available today and it¿s high quality, and it¿s integrated with Celera¿s human genome.¿

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