08 Nov Genome sequencing supports Nile rat animal model for diabetes research
Model organisms are essential for biomedical research and have enabled many important scientific discoveries. The ability to sequence the genomes of these models is a powerful tool to study the genetic factors that impact human health.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) and Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) are widely used in research due to their genetic similarities to humans. But another rodent is rising through the ranks — Arvicanthis niloticus, the Nile rat.
New research published today in BMC Biology provides a high-quality reference genome assembly for the Nile rat, expanding its potential as a model organism.
“We need research tools that will enable us to do the same things with the Nile rat that we are used to doing with the lab mouse,” says Yury Bukhman, a computational biologist in the Stewart Computational Biology Group at Morgridge and senior author on the project. “Having the reference genome is an advance toward that goal.”
In particular, the Nile rat serves as an alternative model in two research areas where lab mice and rats have limitations — type 2 diabetes and disorders associated with a disrupted circadian rhythm.