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Dev Biol. 2007 Aug 15;308(2):572-82. Epub 2007 May 25.

Gene expression profile during the life cycle of the urochordate Ciona intestinalis.

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Division of Innovative Research, Creative Research Initiative Sousei, Hokkaido University, N21W10 Kita-ku, Sapporo 001-0021, Japan.


Recent whole-genome studies and in-depth expressed sequence tag (EST) analyses have identified most of the developmentally relevant genes in the urochordate, Ciona intestinalis. In this study, we made use of a large-scale oligo-DNA microarray to further investigate and identify genes with specific or correlated expression profiles, and we report global gene expression profiles for about 66% of all the C. intestinalis genes that are expressed during its life cycle. We succeeded in categorizing the data set into 5 large clusters and 49 sub-clusters based on the expression profile of each gene. This revealed the higher order of gene expression profiles during the developmental and aging stages. Furthermore, a combined analysis of microarray data with the EST database revealed the gene groups that were expressed at a specific stage or in a specific organ of the adult. This study provides insights into the complex structure of ascidian gene expression, identifies co-expressed gene groups and marker genes and makes predictions for the biological roles of many uncharacterized genes. This large-scale oligo-DNA microarray for C. intestinalis should facilitate the understanding of global gene expression and gene networks during the development and aging of a basal chordate.

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