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Exp Anim. 2009 Oct;58(5):459-69.

Ciona intestinalis and Oxycomanthus japonicus, representatives of marine invertebrates.

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Shimoda Marine Research Center, University of Tsukuba, Shimoda, Shizuoka, Japan.


The study of marine invertebrates is useful in various biological research fields. However, genetic analyses of these animals are limited, mainly due to difficulties in culturing them, and the genetic resources of marine invertebrates have not been organized. Recently, advances have been made in the study of two deuterostomes, an ascidian Ciona intestinalis and a feather star Oxycomanthus japonicus. The draft genome sequence of Ciona intestinalis has been determined, and its compact genome, which has less redundancy of genes compared with vertebrates, provides us with a useful experimental system for analyzing the functions of genes during development. The life cycle of Ciona intestinalis is approximately 2-3 months, and the genetic techniques including a perfect inland culture system, germline transformation with a transposon Minos, enhancer detection and insertional mutagenesis, have been established. The feather star Oxycomanthus japonicus conserves the characteristics of the basic echinoderm body plan with a segmented mesoderm, which is a fascinating characteristic for understanding the evolution of echinoderms. Oxycomanthus japonicus shows strong regeneration ability and is a suitable subject for analysis of the mechanisms of regeneration. In consideration of these features, the National BioResource Project (NBRP) has started to support the supply of wild-types, transgenic lines and inbred lines of Ciona intestinalis and Oxycomanthus japonicus.

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