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Dev Biol. 2006 Dec 1;300(1):108-20. Epub 2006 Aug 22.

The C2H2 zinc finger genes of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and their expression in embryonic development.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


The C2H2 zinc finger is one of the most abundant protein domains and is thought to have been extensively replicated in diverse animal clades. Some well-studied proteins that contain this domain are transcriptional regulators. As part of an attempt to delineate all transcription factors encoded in the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome, we identified the C2H2 zinc finger genes indicated in the sequence, and examined their involvement in embryonic development. We found 377 zinc finger genes in the sea urchin genome, about half the number found in mice or humans. Their expression was measured by quantitative PCR. Up to the end of gastrulation less than a third of these genes is expressed, and about 75% of the expressed genes are maternal; both parameters distinguish these from all other classes of regulatory genes as measured in other studies. Spatial expression pattern was determined by whole mount in situ hybridization for 43 genes transcribed at a sufficient level, and localized expression was observed in diverse embryonic tissues. These genes may execute important regulatory functions in development. However, the functional meaning of the majority of this large gene family remains undefined.

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