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2 Changing Perspectives in Yeast Research Nearly a Decade after the Genome Sequence

Kara Dolinski, David Botstein


The first complete nucleotide sequence of a eukaryotic genome, that of budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), was published in 1996 (Goffeau et al. 1996). It was the result of a broad international effort, stimulated by a consensus reached in the United States, nearly a decade earlier, that there should be an extraordinary 15-year effort to sequence the human genome, supported by funding of the order of $3 billion. A particularly significant feature of the National Academy of Sciences report (Alberts et al. 1988) that announced this consensus was the recommendation that the genomic sequences of a few other eukaryotes should be determined first. The eukaryotic genomes chosen were those of the leading “model organisms,” because their genomes are significantly smaller than that of the human, and because substantial and successful molecular genetics research communities had already been developed to study them. Largely because of the efforts of these communities, it was already known that many of the proteins carrying out basic cellular functions are highly conserved among all the eukaryotes, suggesting that knowing the sequences of both the model genomes and the human genome would be an important path to understanding them both. Explicitly named were yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), a nematode worm (Caenorhabditis elegans), and a fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster). The yeast genome, containing ~12 million bp, is only 0.4% the length of the 3-billion-bp human genome, and the worm and fly genomes are ~3.3% and 5.5% the length of the human genome, respectively (numbers from Saccharomyces Genome Database [SGD;], UCSC...

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