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Dev Genes Evol. 2012 Apr;222(2):63-76. doi: 10.1007/s00427-012-0388-6. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

A genomewide survey of bHLH transcription factors in the coral Acropora digitifera identifies three novel orthologous families, pearl, amber, and peridot.

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Marine Genomics Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Onna, Okinawa, 904-0495, Japan.


Decoding the genome of the coral, Acropora digitifera, enabled us to characterize a nearly full set of 70 basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors in this organism. This number is comparable to 68 bHLH genes in the sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis, and larger than those in most other invertebrate metazoans. The 70 bHLH genes were assigned to 29 orthologous families previously reported. In addition, we identified three novel HLH orthologous families, which we designated pearl, amber, and peridot, increasing the number of orthologous families to 32. Pearl and amber orthologues were found in genomes and expressed sequenced tags (ESTs) of Mollusca and Annelida in addition to Cnidaria. Peridot orthologues were found in genomes and ESTs of Cephalochordata and Hemichordata in addition to Cnidaria. These three genes were likely lost in the clades of Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Homo sapiens during animal evolution.

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