The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum is a well-established model organism for the study of basic aspects of differentiation, signal transduction, phagocytosis, cytokinesis and cell motility. The D. discoideum genome project is in an advanced state and expected to be finished in 2003. The sequencing phase was started in 1998 after the formation of an international consortium and agreements on strategy and resources. As strategy a whole chromosome shotgun (WCS) approach has been chosen and each of the six Dictyostelium chromosomes has been assigned to project partners. Sequence
and analysis of chromosome 2, the largest chromosome, which at
8 Mb represents about 25% of the genome, has recently been published
(Glockner et al., Nature 418, 79-85, 2002). Chromosomes 1 and 6
are close to being finished.
To accelerate completion of the genome sequence the next step in the project is a whole genome assembly followed by the analysis of the complete gene content. Gene prediction will be carried out with three independent gene prediction programs. Verification of predicted genes will be supported by data from the Japanese cDNA sequencing project, which so far revealed sequences for approximately 50% of all the genes (Morio et al., DNA Res. 5, 335-340, 1998). Finally,
a set of common tools will be used for automatic annotation of predicted genes.
The completed genome sequence and its analysis will be the basis
for genome-wide functional studies, it will position Dictyostelium on the same
level as the other model organisms and further enhance its experimental attractiveness.