The entire C. elegans genome was sequenced and reported in 1998 (1). It was the first animal genome to be sequenced, and it provided insights into the number and variety of genes necessary to encode an entire multicellular organism. The 19,099 predicted genes turned out to be surprisingly close to the estimated 27,000 genes in humans. Moreover, the redundancy in gene families, when compared to the partially completed genomes of other organisms, suggested a stark resemblance and conservation between all animals, despite their diverse morphologies. This includes genes encoding neurotransmitter synthesis, storage, use, and signaling pathways (2). The gene sequence data itself now provide a firm source from which genetic approaches can be taken. Thus, genes can be knocked out or ectopically expressed from C. elegans, and, based on the function of the gene in C. elegans, the results can be interpreted and extrapolated to humans.
A major difference between C. elegans and human genomes is the compactness. Thus, the 19,099 predicted genes are spread through a genome size of 97 million
C. elegans genetic
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