The Sequencing of the Rhesus Macaque Genome and its Comparison with the Genome Sequences of Human and Chimpanzee


The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) diverged from the ancestors of Homo sapiens about 25 million years ago. The macaque's genetic and physiological similarity to human is the basis for it becoming the most widely used nonhuman primate in basic and applied biomedical research. The genome sequence of a female rhesus macaque of Indian origin has been determined and compared with the genome sequences of chimpanzee and human. Those studies have revealed the likely structure of ancestral primate genomes and provided evidence both for positive selection and for the lineageā€specific expansion and contraction of gene families during primate evolution. The complete description of the macaque genome has greatly increased the utility of this animal model for biomedical research at the same time as improving our understanding of the basic biology of this highly successful species of Old World monkey.

Keywords: rhesus macaque genome sequence; genomic duplications; expansion and contraction of gene families; chromosomal rearrangements; positive selection; human disease orthologues

Figure 1.

Evolutionary triangulation in the human, chimpanzee and rhesus macaque lineages summarizing microscopically visible chromosomal breakpoints. Circled numbers indicate lineage‐specific breaks. Reproduced from Rhesus Macaque Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium .

Figure 2.

Chromosomal breakpoints between macaque and the human–chimpanzee common ancestor. Each chromosome is represented by a white bar (left) and a coloured bar (right). A total of 820 thin horizontal lines in the white bars represent submicroscopic breakpoints (in the 10 kb to 4 Mb range) detected by genomic triangulation, whereas 43 thick black lines in the coloured bars represent breakpoints on the microscopic scale (>4 Mb). Numbers above each bar indicate the total lines within the bar. Reproduced from Rhesus Macaque Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium .

Figure 3.

Global pattern of macaque segmental duplications (only those with 90%–95% sequence identity and >10 kb in length are shown for simplicity). Red lines indicate interchromosomal (Inter) duplications, blue ticks show intrachromosomal (Intra) events and purple bars show centromeric, acrocentric and/or large gap regions. WGAC, whole‐genome assembly comparison and nr, nonredundant. Reproduced from Rhesus Macaque Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium .



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Human Gene Mutation Database

Marmoset Genome Project

Orangutan Genome Project

Rhesus Macaque Genome Resources

Rhesus Monkey Genome Project

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Gibbs, Richard A, Worley, Kim C, Kehrer‐Sawatzki, Hildegard, and Cooper, David N(Jul 2008) The Sequencing of the Rhesus Macaque Genome and its Comparison with the Genome Sequences of Human and Chimpanzee. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020744]