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Dev Genes Evol. 2003 Jun;213(5-6):264-72. Epub 2003 May 9.

A genomewide survey of developmentally relevant genes in Ciona intestinalis. VI. Genes for Wnt, TGFbeta, Hedgehog and JAK/STAT signaling pathways.

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Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Cell-cell interactions play important roles in a variety of developmental processes, and therefore molecules involved in the signaling pathways have been studied extensively. Recently, the draft genome sequence of the basal chordate, Ciona intestinalis, was determined. Here we annotated genes for the signaling pathways of Wnt, transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta), Hedgehog, and JAK/STAT in the genome of Ciona intestinalis. The Ciona genome contains ten wnt genes, six frizzled genes, four sFRP genes, ten TGFbeta family member genes, five TGFbeta-receptor genes, and five Smad genes; most of the genes were found with less redundancy than in vertebrate genomes. The other genes in the signaling pathways are present as a single copy in the Ciona genome. In addition, all of the identified genes for the signaling pathway, except for a few genes, have EST evidence, and their cDNAs are available from the Ciona intestinalis gene collection. Therefore, Ciona intestinalis may provide an experimental system for exploring the basic genetic cascade associated with the signaling pathways in chordates.

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