Creating a Physical Map of the Human Genome

James B. Orlin

MIT Sloan School and Whitehead Institute
Cambridge, MA 02139

The MIT Whitehead Genome Center has a three year project devoted to creating a physical map of the human genome. To help analyze the human genome, scientists at CEPH have created a library of 33,000 clones, referred to as YACs (Yeast Artificial Chromosomes). The average size of a clone is approximately of about 1 million bases of DNA. In creating the library of clones, the positional information of each clone is lost. A physical map of the genome consists of recreating the physical order of the clones on the genome. The MIT Genome Center will develop the physical map primarily through the creation of 10,000 ordered Sequence Tagged Sites (STSs). Each STS may be viewed as a unique marker on the genome. The ordering of the STSs is of independent interest since these markers may be used not only for the CEPH library of clones, but also for any other library of clones of the human genome.

In this talk we will address the following questions: (1) Why are physical maps are of value to the biological community? In particular, how can they help researchers locate disease genes? (2) What kinds of experimental data are being produced at MIT and elsewhere for constructing the physical map? (3) What are the difficulties associated with the different experimental data? (4) What mathematical approaches are being used for solving the physical mapping problem? and (5) What is the progress to date on the MIT effort to assemble a physical map?

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Document last modified on March 28, 2000.