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J Exp Zool. 2002 Aug 15;294(2):136-45.

Amphi-Eomes/Tbr1: an amphioxus cognate of vertebrate Eomesodermin and T-Brain1 genes whose expression reveals evolutionarily distinct domain in amphioxus development.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


A cDNA for a novel T-box containing gene was isolated from the amphioxus Branchiostoma belcheri. A molecular phylogenetic tree constructed from the deduced amino acid sequence of the isolated cDNA indicates that this gene belongs to the T-Brain subfamily. In situ hybridization reveals that the expression is first detected in the invaginating archenteron at the early gastrula stage and this expression is down-regulated at the neurula stage. In early larvae, the expression appears again and transcripts are detected exclusively in the pre-oral pit (wheel organ-Hatschek's pit of the adult). In contrast to the vertebrate counterparts, no transcripts are detected in the brain vesicle or nerve cord throughout the development. These results are interpreted to mean that a role of T-Brain products in vertebrate forebrain development was acquired after the amphioxus was split from the lineage leading to the vertebrates. On the other hand, comparison of the tissue-specific expression domain of T-Brain genes and other genes between amphioxus and vertebrates revealed that the pre-oral pit of amphioxus has several molecular features which are comparable to those of the vertebrate olfactory and hypophyseal placode.

Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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