Fish genes work in human cells

Understanding how mammal splicing enhancers differ from fish makes Fugu more useful

Cathy Holding(cathy.holding@absw.org.uk)
Oct 25, 2004

Researchers based in the United States have discovered significant differences in the regulation of gene splicing between mammals and fish. Their findings, reported in PNAS this week, could help scientists develop transgenic techniques using pufferfish DNA sequences in mouse and human cells.

The genome of the pufferfish—or Fugu—contains all the alternative promoters and splice exons and introns that are present in mammalian genomes, but because the introns are so much smaller, genes are about an eighth the size, said lead author Christopher B. Burge, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

This makes the Fugu genome a potentially powerful tool for functional gene analysis, Burge said, but scientists have until now been frustrated in their attempts to use the resource because mammalian cells do not correctly splice the fish genes.

Burge's team developed a variant of a previously devised method for predicting splicing enhancer sequences. The new technique—dubbed RESCUE-ISE—predicts intronic...

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