Feb. 1, 1999 ITHACA, N.Y. -- A valuable collection of canine genetic information, developed by a research group at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, will soon be available to the international genetics community.
DNA from 16 extensive, highly informative dog pedigrees is on its way to Ralston Purina Co., where it will constitute the principal resource of the newly established Canine Reference Family DNA Distribution Center. Ralston Purina's offer to broker the exchange of information among the world's geneticists caps a four-year effort by the Cornell group and colleagues from several other research laboratories to foster international collaboration among canine genetics researchers.
The idea for the canine DNA center grew out of informal discussions begun more than five years ago among Gustavo Aguirre and Gregory Acland of Cornell, Jasper Rine and Elaine Ostrander of the University of California at Berkeley, and Linda Cork and Emmanuel Mignot of Stanford University. At the time, Ostrander was a postdoctoral associate in Rine's Berkeley laboratory; she now heads a gene-mapping group at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Aguirre and Acland are researchers the canine genetics program in the James Baker Institute for Animal Health in the Cornell veterinary college.
Members of the three groups began in 1995 to lay out the ground rules for future mapping efforts, beginning with the principle that standard reference families would be used to validate the map or additions to it. "Two things determine which are the best pedigrees," explains Acland. "The first is how polymorphic, or dissimilar, the parents are genetically and the second is the number of siblings in the family. Dogs, with their large litters, are especially useful for genetic mapping."
The arrangement between Ralston Purina and Cornell is modeled on that of the Center for the Study of Human Polymorphism (CEPH), a genetic clearinghouse maintained at Généthon in France. DNA from the CEPH reference families, a panel of over 40 large, three-generation families, has supplied the information used by scientists worldwide to map the human genome. Access to the genetic data stored at Ralston Purina, and to the mapping information it yields, is similarly intended to coordinate international efforts and speed the development of the canine map.
Ralston Purina will archive and store DNA samples from every member of each reference family. Researchers wishing to use the DNA will make applications to a committee. DNA will be distributed with the proviso that any map data generated through its use must be placed in the public domain. Ralston Purina will maintain a web site for this purpose.
To date, more than 300 highly informative markers have been placed on the canine map. For the core group of scientists who have collaborated to construct this framework, the hope is that other laboratories will soon start filling it in with additional markers.
Says Acland, "The collaborations that have led to the recent rapid progress in mapping the canine genome have been a very encouraging example of synergistic science. Our laboratory at Cornell is very pleased and proud to have been part of this effort. The support of Ralston Purina will now enable this synergism to involve many more laboratories throughout the world."
Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.
Ralston Purina announcement: http://www.ralston.com/news/news46.html
Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine: http://zoo.vet.cornell.edu/
James Baker Institute: http://bakerinstitute.vet.cornell.edu/
Cornell canine genetics and reproduction center: http://bakerinstitute.vet.cornell.edu/Baker%20Home%20Pages/CCGR
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