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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1998 Jun;9(3):375-81.

Homology of Hox genes and the zootype concept in early metazoan evolution.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, J. W. Goethe-Universit├Ąt, Siesmayerstrasse 70, Frankfurt am Main, D-60054, Germany.


The correct identification of homologous Hox genes within and between diplo- and triploblastic animals is of crucial importance for recent hypotheses on the anagenetic evolution of animal bauplans. While the homology discussion in general has reached new heights, we apply traditional homology criteria to assign homology to Hox genes from diploblastic animals. Comparison of the Trox-2 gene from the presumably most basal metazoan animal, the placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens, to other Hox genes suggests the presence of unambiguous homologs in Hydrozoa and Scyphozoa and the absence of any specific homolog in triploblasts. Furthermore, the comparisons provide support for the idea that Hox genes-at least in diploblastic animals-are composed of functional subunits (modules), which to some degree have undergone independent evolution. The findings are not readily compatible with the existence of the "zootype" in diploblastic animals.

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