SITE VISIT: Human Genome at a Glance

Science  30 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5415, pp. 707
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5415.707a

From DNA sequences to new research on genetic diseases, details about the human genome are pouring into public databases. This spring, the government's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) launched a curated Web site, called Human Genome Resources, that can help researchers keep tabs on all these new data.

For starters, the public site has links to key genomic databases and point-and-click paths to detailed maps and markers for all 23 pairs of human chromosomes. And a newly developed resource, LocusLink, provides “an easy starting place for a quick summary of all the top-level information [about a gene],” says Gregory Schuler of NCBI. Type a gene name into LocusLink, and up comes a list of that gene's aliases, its location on the genome, ID numbers, and links to its sequence in GenBank; or link to Medline abstracts and other resources. Another new feature, RefSeq, will help sort out conflicting or divergent GenBank submissions about a particular gene by providing a single sequence selected by a team of experts. Databases of mutations, such as single- nucleotide polymorphisms, will be indexed by these reference sequences, Schuler says.

As of 20 April, LocusLink covered more than 9000 genes and regions, and 419 reference sequences had been pinned down. Another cool feature is color-coded chromosomes that let even high school students track the weekly progress as sequencers scramble to finish the human genome's 3 billion bases by 2003.

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