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Mech Dev. 1997 Oct;67(2):179-92.

The characterization of novel Pax genes of the sea urchin and Drosophila reveal an ancient evolutionary origin of the Pax2/5/8 subfamily.

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Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna, Austria.


The developmental control genes of the Pax family can be grouped into different subclasses according to structure and sequence homology. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of three novel Pax genes of the sea urchin for which no homologues are yet known in other animal phyla. One of these genes, suPaxB, codes for the previously characterized transcription factor TSAP which is involved in the developmental regulation of two pairs of late histone genes. Furthermore, conserved members of the Pax2/5/8 subfamily, which have so far been described only in vertebrates, were isolated not only from the sea urchin, but also from Drosophila and C. elegans. Hence, the Pax2/5/8 transcription factors constitute an ancient subfamily of highly conserved Pax proteins. During Drosophila embryogenesis, the Pax258 gene is shown to be expressed in the precursor cells of the external sensory organs, thus suggesting a role for Pax258 in the early development of the peripheral nervous system of insects.

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