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Dev Genes Evol. 2004 Mar;214(3):134-8. Epub 2004 Jan 30.

The ancestral role of COE genes may have been in chemoreception: evidence from the development of the sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis (Phylum Cnidaria; Class Anthozoa).

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Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Pacific Biomedical Research Center, University of Hawaii, 41 Ahui St., Honolulu, HI 96813, USA.


An orthologue of the COE family of helix-loop-helix transcription factors was recovered from the anthozoan Nematostella vectensis (Cnidaria). NvCOE has high sequence similarity to vertebrate and invertebrate orthologues in all three major functional domains of the protein. In situ hybridization studies show early expression through the cleavage period but transcripts are down regulated at gastrulation while remaining expressed at high levels only in the apical tuft of cilia at the aboral end of the planula larva. It is likely that one of the ancestral roles of the COE family of genes may have been in the development of chemosensory neurons.

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