Following the completed draft of the human genome sequence, there is renewed interest in the genetic differences between species and, particularly, in what makes us human. In 4 January Science, Asao Fujiyama and colleagues at the RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center, Japan present a first-generation human-chimpanzee comparative genome map (Science 2002, 295:131-134).

They used over 77,000 chimp bacterial artificial chromosomes (BAC) and aligned end-sequences with the human genomic sequence. The BAC clones covered almost half of the human genome. They calculated that the degree of identity with human sequences is about 98.77%. Closer analysis of chromosome 21 provided evidence for several human-specific loci.

This map represents a step towards discovering what makes us different from our closest relatives, the apes.

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