The DNA of a 4-year-old Abyssinian cat named Cinnamon has been sequenced.
The similarity between the cat genome and six recently completed mammalian genomes (human, chimpanzee, mouse, rat, dog and cow) allowed the researchers to identify 20,285 putative genes.
Researchers say that the data will be useful for parentage testing, forensic analysis and studies of evolution, including the reconstruction of domestication processes, fancy breed development and ecological adaptation among the roaring cats.
Researchers also say that the genome sequence analysis will lead to health benefits for domestic cats as well as serve as a model for human disease, one reason the National Human Genome Research Institute, based in Bethesda, Md., authorized the project three years ago.
Domestic cats have more than 250 naturally occurring hereditary disorders, many of which are similar to genetic pathologies in humans. For instance, Cinnamon’s pedigree carries a genetic mutation that causes retinitis pigmentosa. The degenerative eye disease affects 1 in 3,500 humans in America.
The domestic cat also serves as a model for human infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Feline immunodeficiency virus is a genetic relative of human immunodeficiency virus.
The report appears in the November issue of the journal Genome Research.
The Cat Genome Project is based at the National Cancer Institute / Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center in Frederick, Md. The sequencing data were generated by Agencourt Bioscience Corp. in Beverly, Mass.