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Development. 1999 Jan;126(1):85-95.

A comparative molecular approach to mesodermal patterning in basal deuterostomes: the expression pattern of Brachyury in the enteropneust hemichordate Ptychodera flava.

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  • 1Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


This work concerns the formation of mesoderm in the development of an enteropneust hemichordate, Ptychodera flava, and the expression of the Brachyury gene during this process. Brachyury expression occurs in two distinct phases. In the embryo, Brachyury is transcribed during gastrulation in the future oral and anal regions of the gut, but transcripts are no longer detected by 2 weeks of development. Brachyury expression is not detected during the 5 months of larval planktonic existence. During this time, the adult coeloms begin to develop, originating as coalescences of cells that appear to delaminate from the wall of the gut. Brachyury expression cannot be detected again until metamorphosis, when transcripts appear in the mesoderm of the adult proboscis, collar and the very posterior region of the trunk. It is also expressed in the posterior end of the gut. At no time is Brachyury expressed in the stomochord, the putative homologue of the chordate notochord. These observations illuminate the process of maximal indirect development in Ptychodera and, by comparison with patterns of Brachyury expression in the indirect development of echinoderms, their sister group, they reveal the evolutionary history of Brachyury utilization in deuterostomes.

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