LONDON — The genome of the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, indicates that it is likely to be unexpectedly useful for research into human diseases. The fully annotated gene sequence published today in Nature suggests that the evolutionary leap from prokaryotic to eukaryotic life forms may have been much greater than the next step, from unicellular to multicellular eukaryotes. Results indicate that the genomes of multicellular eukaryotic organisms, including man, might be more similar to those of unicellular eukaryotes, such as yeasts, than had previously been suspected. The S. pombe genome also revealed that 50 of the nearly 5000 genes have significant similarity to genes associated with a range of human diseases, including cystic fibrosis, hereditary deafness and Type 2 diabetes; 23 of these genes were found to be related to genes involved in human cancers.

S. pombe is the sixth eukaryotic organism to be sequenced, following S. cerevisiae,...

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