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FEBS Lett. 2005 Sep 12;579(22):5024-8.

T-box and homeobox genes from the ctenophore Pleurobrachia pileus: comparison of Brachyury, Tbx2/3 and Tlx in basal metazoans and bilaterians.

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Institute of Zoology, University of Basel, Biocenter/Pharmacenter, Klingelbergstrasse 50, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.


Most animals are classified as Bilateria and only four phyla are still extant as outgroups, namely Porifera, Placozoa, Cnidaria and Ctenophora. These non-bilaterians were not considered to have a mesoderm and hence mesoderm-specific genes. However, the T-box gene Brachyury could be isolated from sponges, placozoans and cnidarians. Here, we describe the first Brachyury and a Tbx2/3 homologue from a ctenophore. In addition, analysing T-box and homeobox genes under comparable conditions in all four basal phyla lead to the discovery of novel T-box genes in sponges and cnidarians and a Tlx homeobox gene in the ctenophore Pleurobrachia pileus. The conservation of the T-box and the homeobox genes suggest that distinct subfamilies with different roles in bilaterians were already split in non-bilaterians.

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