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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Feb 13;98(4):1665-70.

Lamprey Dlx genes and early vertebrate evolution.

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Department of Biology, Kalamazoo College, 1200 Academy Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49006, USA.


Gnathostome vertebrates have multiple members of the Dlx family of transcription factors that are expressed during the development of several tissues considered to be vertebrate synapomorphies, including the forebrain, cranial neural crest, placodes, and pharyngeal arches. The Dlx gene family thus presents an ideal system in which to examine the relationship between gene duplication and morphological innovation during vertebrate evolution. Toward this end, we have cloned Dlx genes from the lamprey Petromyzon marinus, an agnathan vertebrate that occupies a critical phylogenetic position between cephalochordates and gnathostomes. We have identified four Dlx genes in P. marinus, whose orthology with gnathostome Dlx genes provides a model for how this gene family evolved in the vertebrate lineage. Differential expression of these lamprey Dlx genes in the forebrain, cranial neural crest, pharyngeal arches, and sensory placodes of lamprey embryos provides insight into the developmental evolution of these structures as well as a model of regulatory evolution after Dlx gene duplication events.

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