Chimpanzee Genome
to chimpanzees: (1) the right not to be
deprived of life; (2) the right not to be sub-
jected to torture and cruel treatment; and
(3) the right not to be subjected to medical
or scientiFc research that is not in the best
interest of this individual.
Whether these ventures and agreements
are sufFcient to protect chimpanzees from
abuse in human research will be seen in
the future. As soon as comparative studies
of humans and chimpanzees lead to funda-
mental questions that can be solved neither
by DNA sequence comparisons nor by
transgenic experiments in model systems,
research proposals will arise that include
the generation of transgenic – that will be
‘‘humanized’’ – chimpanzees.
Therefore, it is an ethical imperative to ac-
company an extensive comparative study
on the chimpanzee genome with a pro-
gram that studies ethical, legal, and social
implications of such research.
The Chimpanzee Genome Project
Even under careful consideration of all
practical and ethical limitations that are
correlated with comparative studies be-
tween chimpanzees and humans, the
insights based on the availability of a
chimpanzee genome sequence are likely
to be substantial. As a consequence,
the US National Human Genome Re-
search Institute (NHGRI) has recently
assigned chimpanzees the top priority
for whole-genome sequencing, a deci-
sion that might be a pioneer for future
research on nonhuman primates. The
choice of sequencing the genome of chim-
panzees rather than that of the rhesus
macaque – the most widely used primate
in biomedical research – seems to put
more weight on the evolutionary aspect of
a human–nonhuman primate comparison
than on its immediate value for experimen-
tal biomedical studies.
The Quest for Differences
With respect to the list of eukaryotes whose
genome has been entirely sequenced, the
choice of determining the genome se-
quence of chimpanzees comprises the
Frst step into the next phase of compar-
ative genomics. Comparing the genome
sequences from yeast, worm, fly, mouse,
and human led to the identiFcation of
shared, and thus, evolutionarily conserved
elements. ±ollow-up studies mainly aimed
at determining the function of these con-
served elements and generating a rough
view on the genetic framework under-
lying organismal organization. However,
adding chimpanzees to that list shifts the
focus ultimately from conserved genomic
elements toward the differences between
two genomes. As a consequence, the initial
outcome of a genome comparison between
humans and chimpanzees will be a com-
prehensive map of their DNA sequence
differences. As a second step, the func-
tional consequences of these differences
need to be analyzed and, eventually, a Fne-
scale view on the functional organization
of the human genome will emerge.
Sequencing Strategy and Requirements
Sequencing an entire genome with more
than three billion bases is still an en-
terprise that requires careful planning
and strategical considerations. Recent se-
quencing efforts, including the genomes
, human, and mouse clearly
demonstrated that the whole-genome shot-
gun sequencing strategy is the fastest and
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