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Celera Human Genome Sequence Will Be Public

By Edward R. Winstead

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Human Genome

An historic scientific document is about to emerge from private hands. The human genome sequence created by Celera Genomics will soon be deposited in GenBank, the online DNA database funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Celera is the private company that completed a draft of the human genome sequence three years ago. The Human Genome Project (HGP), an international consortium of publicly funded researchers, completed its own draft at the same time, and leaders of both groups announced the milestone at a White House ceremony.

At the time of the 2001 announcement, the Celera sequence was available to corporate subscribers of the company’s genome database in Rockville, Maryland. Non-subscribers had limited access to the data through Celera’s Web site.

Now the complete Celera sequence, which included publicly available data generated by the HGP, will be in the public domain.

A second Celera human genome sequence, this one created months after the first and never made public, will also be placed in GenBank. The second sequence includes only DNA sequences generated at Celera.

In a new study, J. Craig Venter, who led the Celera team and is now president of The Center for the Advancement of Genomics in Rockville, Maryland, and his colleagues compare the “Celera-only” sequence and the HGP’s 2001 draft sequence.

Their report, to be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compares the accuracy of the draft sequences against the “finished” human genome sequence now available at GenBank.

According to the report, both versions “covered about the same amount of the genome, but they did so in different ways.” The Celera sequence provided “more order and orientation” while the HGP sequence provided “better coverage of exact and nearly exact repeats.”

Differences in the sequences are attributable at least in part to the methods used, say the researchers. Celera used the whole-genome shotgun method, while the HGP used a more traditional method as well as the shotgun method.

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