Genome Therapeutics Publishes Complete Genome Sequence of|
PR Newswire - November 11, 1997 07:58
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Methane-Producing Organism is Only Second Public Sequence of Archaea Branch
WALTHAM, Mass., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Genome Therapeutics Corp.
(Nasdaq: GENE) today announced it has completely sequenced the genome of
Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, a methane-producing organism that
thrives at high temperatures and could be harnessed as a renewable energy
source. The sequence and accompanying manuscript appear in the November issue
of the American Society of Microbiology's Journal of Bacteriology, published
M. thermoautotrophicum is part of the Archaea domain, the recently
discovered third branch of life. The sequencing effort was completed, in
collaboration with The Ohio State University, as part of a multi-year research
grant with the Department of Energy, under the DOE's Microbial Genome Project.
Genome Therapeutics is the first commercial organization to sequence the full
genome of an organism that is a representative of the Archaea.
"For the first time, we can now do essential comparative analysis and look
for common denominators among the genes of these organisms, as well as
comparisons between the three principal domains of life - Archaea, Bacteria
and Eucarya," said Robert J. Hennessey, Chairman, President and CEO of Genome
Therapeutics. "Genome Therapeutics is one of the few organizations in the
world to completely sequence an organism, and today we celebrate this valuable
scientific contribution by Dr. Douglas R. Smith and his team of
M. thermoautotrophicum is an anarerobic archaeon, with rod-shaped cells,
that grows optimally at 65 degrees Celsius. The organism produces energy
through the reduction of CO2 with H2, producing methane. The 1.8 million
base-pair sequence was obtained by using a whole-shotgun sequencing approach.
The complete circular map of the genome, which is annotated and color-coded
based on function of particular genes, is available on Genome Therapeutics'
home page (http://www.genomecorp.com). The sequence will also be available to
subscribers of the Company's non-exclusive database, PathoGenome(TM), in a
format that allows for comparative searches among proprietary and public
Historically, life was organized into two evolutionary branches,
prokaryotes and eucaryotes. The discovery of the Archaea domain in 1977, with
some genetic characteristics unlike those previously identified in either
existing branch, introduced a fundamental change in the way scientists viewed
the evolutionary categories of life. The first sequence publication of an
archaeon, Methanococcus jannaschii, appeared in August 1996.
"These findings will provide valuable insight into specific genes, their
functions and biological pathways," said Douglas R. Smith, Ph.D., principal
investigator and Senior Research Fellow, Genome Therapeutics. "A total of
1,855 protein encoding genes have been identified, and approximately 44% have
been assigned putative functions. There is extensive genetic divergence
between Methanobacterium and Methanococcus, with less than 20% of the open
reading frames encoding sequences that are more than 50% identical."
Collaborators in this sequencing effort included John N. Reeve and Charles
J. Daniels from The Ohio State University, Shmuel Pietrokovski from the Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and George Church from Harvard Medical
Genome Therapeutics Corporation is a leader in the field of genomics --
the identification and functional characterization of genes. The Company's
commercial gene discovery strategy is to identify and characterize human genes
associated with major diseases and elucidate bacterial genes responsible for
many serious infectious diseases. Together with its strategic partners,
Genome Therapeutics is using genomic information to develop a new generation
Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical are
"forward looking" statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995. The actual results may differ from those projected in the
forward looking statement due to risks and uncertainties that exist in Genome
Therapeutics' operations and business environment, described more fully in the
Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange
SOURCE Genome Therapeutics Corp.
/CONTACT: Christopher Taylor, Director of Investor Relations of
Genome Therapeutics Corp., 617-398-2466 or Douglas MacDougall of Feinstein
Kean Partners, 617-577-8110/
/Web site: genomecorp.com