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Mar Genomics. 2015 Dec;24 Pt 2:121-9. doi: 10.1016/j.margen.2015.07.008. Epub 2015 Aug 5.

Comparative analyses of developmental transcription factor repertoires in sponges reveal unexpected complexity of the earliest animals.

Author information

1
Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5008 Bergen, Norway; Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5008 Bergen, Norway.
2
Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5008 Bergen, Norway.
3
Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5008 Bergen, Norway. Electronic address: maja.adamska@anu.edu.au.

Abstract

Developmental transcription factors (DTFs) control development of animals by affecting expression of target genes, some of which are transcription factors themselves. In bilaterians and cnidarians, conserved DTFs are involved in homologous processes such as gastrulation or specification of neurons. The genome of Amphimedon queenslandica, the first sponge to be sequenced, revealed that only a fraction of these conserved DTF families are present in demosponges. This finding was in line with the view that morphological complexity in the animal lineage correlates with developmental toolkit complexity. However, as the phylum Porifera is very diverse, Amphimedon's genome may not be representative of all sponges. The recently sequenced genomes of calcareous sponges Sycon ciliatum and Leucosolenia complicata allowed investigations of DTFs in a sponge lineage evolutionarily distant from demosponges. Surprisingly, the phylogenetic analyses of identified DTFs revealed striking differences between the calcareous sponges and Amphimedon. As these differences appear to be a result of independent gene loss events in the two sponge lineages, the last common ancestor of sponges had to possess a much more diverse repertoire of DTFs than extant sponges. Developmental expression of sponge homologs of genes involved in specification of the Bilaterian endomesoderm and the neurosensory cells suggests that roles of many DTFs date back to the last common ancestor of all animals. Strikingly, even DTFs displaying apparent pan-metazoan conservation of sequence and function are not immune to being lost from individual species genomes. The quest for a comprehensive picture of the developmental toolkit in the last common metazoan ancestor is thus greatly benefitting from the increasing accessibility of sequencing, allowing comparisons of multiple genomes within each phylum.

KEYWORDS:

Development; Evolution; Gene expression; Gene loss; Sponges; Transcription factors

PMID:
26253310
DOI:
10.1016/j.margen.2015.07.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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