What everybody should know about the rat genome and its online resources.
It has been four years since the original publication of the draft sequence of the rat genome. Five groups are now working together to assemble, annotate and release an updated version of the rat genome. As the prevailing model for physiology, complex disease and pharmacological studies, there is an acute need for the rat's genomic resources to keep pace with the rat's prominence in the laboratory. In this commentary, we describe the current status of the rat genome sequence and the plans for its impending 'upgrade'. We then cover the key online resources providing access to the rat genome, including the new SNP views at Ensembl, the RefSeq and Genes databases at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, Genome Browser at the University of California Santa Cruz and the disease portals for cardiovascular disease and obesity at the Rat Genome Database.