Breakthrough in profiling of yeast genome

July 24, 2002

An international team of researchers that is publishing the results of the first-ever comprehensive genetic profiling of any organism, in this case yeast, which has proved a successful model for understanding the basic functions of human cells.

The July 25 issue of the scientific journal Nature includes an article entitled, "Functional profiling of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome." Canadian authors include a team led by McGill University Biology Professor Howard Bussey.

Human cells have the same basic cellular plan as yeast, but yeast is far more amenable to genetic manipulation. By creating a mutant strain (each missing a particular yeast gene) for 95 percent of the 6,000 yeast genes, the international project now allows genetics to be practiced on a comprehensive scale.

Bussey says the work of the international consortium could lead ultimately to the discovery of better drugs for the treatment of human disease, not only drugs to treat fungal infections, but also drugs that act on gene products shared by the yeast and human genomes. These common genes are implicated in a wide range of diseases including certain forms of cancer.
Source: Jennifer Towell, communications officer, Office of the Vice-Principal (Research), 514-398-8585,

McGill University

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