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Evol Dev. 2007 Jan-Feb;9(1):39-50.

Ectoderm- and endomesoderm-specific GATA transcription factors in the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilli.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.


The GATA family of transcription factors appears to retain conserved roles in early germ layer patterning in most, if not all, animals; however, the number and structure of GATA factor genes varies substantially when different animal genomes are compared. Thus, the origin and relationships of invertebrate and vertebrate GATA factors, and their involvement in animal germ layer evolution, are unclear. We identified two highly conserved GATA factor genes in a marine annelid, the polychaete Platynereis dumerilii. A phylogenetic analysis indicates that the two Platynereis GATA factors are orthologous to the GATA1/2/3 and GATA4/5/6 subfamilies present in vertebrates. We also identified conserved motifs within each GATA class, and assigned the divergent Caenorhabditiselegans and Drosophila melanogaster GATA factor genes to the vertebrate classes. Similar to their vertebrate homologs, PdGATA123 mRNA expression was restricted to ectoderm, whereas PdGATA456 was detected only in endomesoderm. Finally, we identified in genome databases one GATA factor gene in each of two distantly related cnidarians that include motifs from both bilaterian GATA factor classes. Our results show that distinct orthologs of the two vertebrate GATA factor classes exist in a protostome invertebrate, suggesting that bilaterian GATA factors originated from GATA1/2/3 and 4/5/6 ancestral orthologs. Moreover, our results indicate that the GATA gene duplication and the functional divergence that led to these two ancestral GATA factor genes occurred after the split of the bilaterian stem group from the cnidarians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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