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Brain Res Bull. 2005 Sep 15;66(4-6):410-20. Epub 2005 Feb 24.

Otx genes in the evolution of the vertebrate brain.

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  • 1MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, New Hunt's House, 4th Floor, King's College London, UK.


Only until a decade ago, animal phylogeny was traditionally based on the assumption that evolution of bilaterians went from simple to complex through gradual steps in which the extant species would represent grades of intermediate complexity that reflect the organizational levels of their ancestors. The advent of more sophisticated molecular biology techniques combined to an increasing variety of functional experiments has provided new tools, which lead us to consider evolutionary studies under a brand new light. An ancestral versus derived low-complexity of a given organism has now to be carefully re-assessed and also the molecular data so far accumulated needs to be re-evaluated. Conserved gene families expressed in the nervous system of all the species have been extensively used to reconstruct evolutionary steps, which may lead to identify the morphological as well as molecular features of the last common ancestor of bilaterians (Urbilateria). The Otx gene family is among these and will be here reviewed.

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