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Dev Genes Evol. 2009 Jun;219(6):289-300. doi: 10.1007/s00427-009-0290-z. Epub 2009 Jun 30.

Phylogenetic and evolutionary relationships and developmental expression patterns of the zebrafish twist gene family.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.


Four members of the twist gene family (twist1a, 1b, 2, and 3) are found in the zebrafish, and they are thought to have arisen through three rounds of gene duplication, two of which occurred prior to the tetrapod-fish split. Phylogenetic analysis groups most of the vertebrate Twist1 peptides into clade I, except for the Twist1b proteins of the acanthopterygian fish (medaka, pufferfish, stickleback), which clustered within clade III. Paralogies and orthologies among the zebrafish, medaka, and human twist genes were determined using comparative synteny analysis of the chromosomal regions flanking these genes. Comparative nucleotide substitution analyses also revealed a faster rate of nucleotide mutation/substitution in the acanthopterygian twist1b compared to the zebrafish twist1b, thus accounting for their anomalous phylogenetic clustering. We also observed minimal expression overlap among the four twist genes, suggesting that despite their significant peptide similarity, their regulatory controls have diverged considerably, with minimal functional redundancy between them.

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