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Evol Dev. 2005 May-Jun;7(3):196-200.

Loss of ancestral genes in the genomic evolution of Ciona intestinalis.

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA. austin@biol.sc.edu

Abstract

Comparison of the predicted protein sets encoded by the complete genomes of two vertebrates (human and pufferfish), the urochordate Ciona intestinalis, three nonchordate animals, and two fungi were used to reconstruct a set of gene families present in the common ancestor of chordates. These ancestral families were much more likely to be lost in Ciona than in either vertebrate. In addition, of 256 duplicate gene pairs that arose by duplication prior to the most recent common ancestor of vertebrates and insects, one of the duplicate genes was four times as likely to be lost in Ciona as in the vertebrates. These results show that the genome of Ciona is not representative of the ancestral chordate genome with respect to gene content but rather shows derived features that may reflect adaptation of the specific ecological niche of urochordates.

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