This is the renewal of a project that is developing an integrated genetic and genomic resource for investigations of the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops), also known as the African Green Monkey. The vervet is one of the important non human primate (NHP) biomedical models, particularly for investigations of the central nervous system (CNS), metabolism, and immunity. Its value to immunologists derives largely from its status as the most abundant natural host of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). It is hoped that identifying the host genetic factors that protect the vervet from developing immunodeficiency disease upon infection with SIV will provide important clues for the prevention and treatment of HIV. Progress in the current award included the completion of a vervet genetic map consisting of microsatellite markers, the identification of large numbers of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in targeted genome regions, the generation of an initial resource for vervet gene expression studies, and creating a website to provide online data access to the scientific community. The vervet genome sequencing project (VGSP) is now underway and will provide, in addition to a reference sequence, a reference vervet transcriptome for several brain tissues and immune cells, and genomewide information on common variation across the major C. aethiops subspecies. The renewal will use this information to verify genomic rearrangements, and generate a genomewide SNP array. By assembling and then genotyping using this array, a large sample of wild-caught vervet monkeys, we will carry out proof-of- concept genomewide association studies of several heritable traits. We will also extend the transcriptome resource through evaluation, in the same tissues, of inter-individual variation in expression. All of the information generated through this project will be made available to the scientific community through an integrated, regularly updated website that will also provide links to VGSP data and to other vervet and NHP projects.
This project will develop research tools which will facilitate a wide range of different investigations that could advance our understanding of a number of devastating common diseases. Notable examples include HIV/AIDS, mental disorders, and diabetes. These tools will allow researchers to uncover specific alterations in the genome - the sum of genetic material - that predispose towards or protect against such diseases.
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