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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Apr 2;93(7):2658-63.

Isolation of a Pax-6 homolog from the ribbonworm Lineus sanguineus.

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Biozentrum, Department of Cell Biology, University of Basel, Switzerland.


The Pax-6 genes of vertebrates and Drosophila encode transcription factors with highly conserved paired- and homeodomains. They are expressed in the nervous system and the developing eyes. Loss-of-function mutations in mammals and flies lead to a reduction or absence of the eyes. By ectopic expression of Pax-6 in Drosophila ectopic eyes can be induced, indicating a determinative role in eye morphogenesis. We have isolated a Pax-6 homolog of the ribbonworm Lineus sanguineus. This gene shares extensive sequence identity and several conserved splice sites with the mammalian and Drosophila genes. During head regeneration the L. sanguineus Pax-6 homolog is expressed in the central nervous system, in the cerebral organ, and in the eye region. These findings support the hypothesis that Pax-6 was present in primitive metazoa before the evolutionary separation of vertebrates and arthropods and suggest a fundamental role in eye and central nervous system development.

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