Taking a SNP in the gene pool: Scientists harvest human gene differences

November 14, 1999

What makes one person's genes different from another's? Very often, any difference is tiny: a change in one DNA base pair out of hundreds that make up a gene. Yet scientists are eager to catalog these base pair variations, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, in the hopes of understanding how differences in our genes lead to differences in us. In the November issue of Genome Research, Kavita Garg, Philip Green, and Deborah Nickerson (University of Washington) report a method to identify common human SNPs located in active genes.

SNPs also arise in the large portion of DNA that does not encode active genes. To sift "coding" SNPs from such non-coding variations, Garg and colleagues made use of so-called cDNA "libraries," which are collections of active genes from one or more individuals. After searching each of 50 different libraries for known genes, they compared sequences from each library base by base to find representative differences between the individuals' genes. This approach yielded 201 coding SNPs, a promising harvest that suggests gene libraries will be a plentiful future source of important human SNPs.
-end-
Contact (author):

Kavita Garg
Department of Molecular Biotechnology
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Email: kavitag@u.washington.edu
Fax: 206-685-7301

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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