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Genetica. 1994;94(2-3):141-50.

Expression of homeobox-containing genes in the sea urchin (Parancentrotus lividus) embryo.

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Istituto di Biologia dello Sviluppo, CNR, Palermo, Italy.


Two homeobox-containing genes that belong to different homeodomain classes have been isolated from a sea urchin genomic library. One, PlHbox11, is the sea urchin homologue of the human and mouse Hox B3 gene, the other, PlHbox12, shows about 55% identity with paired class genes. Expression profile analysis of the two sea urchin Hbox genes suggests that they play different roles during embryogenesis. In fact, PlHbox11 transcripts are rare and are detected only in the pluteus larva and in the Aristotle's lantern and intestine of the adult. The PlHbox12 gene is, on the contrary, transiently expressed in the very early embryo already at the four cell stage; it accumulates at the 64 cell stage and disappears at later stages of development. In situ hybridization experiments to 16 and 32 cell stage whole mount embryos showed localization of the PlHbox12 mRNA to part of the mesomere-macromere region of the early cleavage embryo. These observations suggest a possible role of this gene in early events of cell specification.

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