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J Exp Zool. 1999 Apr 15;285(1):50-6.

Amphioxus type I keratin cDNA and the evolution of intermediate filament genes.

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  • 1School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, United Kingdom.


We report the cloning of an intermediate filament (IF) cDNA from the cephalochordate amphioxus that encodes a protein assignable to the type I keratin group. This is the first type I keratin reported from an invertebrate. Molecular phylogenetic analyses reveal that amphioxus also possesses a type II keratin, and that the genes encoding short-rod IF proteins underwent different patterns of duplication in vertebrates and their closest relatives, the cephalochordates. Extensive IF gene duplication and divergence may have facilitated the origin of new specialised cell types in vertebrates.

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