Homeobox gene expression in Brachiopoda: the role of Not and Cdx in bodyplan patterning, neurogenesis, and germ layer specification

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Andreas Altenburger, Pedro Martinez, Andreas Wanninger

The molecular control that underlies brachiopod ontogeny is largely unknown. In order to contribute to this issue we analyzed the expression pattern of two homeobox containing genes, Not and Cdx, during development of the rhynchonelliform (i.e., articulate) brachiopod Terebratalia transversa. Not is a homeobox containing gene that regulates the formation of the notochord in chordates, while Cdx (caudal) is a ParaHox gene involved in the formation of posterior tissues of various animal phyla. The T. transversa homolog, TtrNot, is expressed in the ectoderm from the beginning of gastrulation until completion of larval development, which is marked by a three-lobed body with larval setae. Expression starts at gastrulation in two areas lateral to the blastopore and subsequently extends over the animal pole of the gastrula. With elongation of the gastrula, expression at the animal pole narrows to a small band, whereas the areas lateral to the blastopore shift slightly towards the future anterior region of the larva. Upon formation of the three larval body lobes, TtrNot expressing cells are present only in the posterior part of the apical lobe. Expression ceases entirely at the onset of larval setae formation. TtrNot expression is absent in unfertilized eggs, in embryos prior to gastrulation, and in settled individuals during and after metamorphosis. Comparison with the expression patterns of Not genes in other metazoan phyla suggests an ancestral role for this gene in gastrulation and germ layer (ectoderm) specification with co-opted functions in notochord formation in chordates and left/right determination in ambulacrarians and vertebrates. The caudal ortholog, TtrCdx, is first expressed in the ectoderm of the gastrulating embryo in the posterior region of the blastopore. Its expression stays stable in that domain until the blastopore is closed. Thereafter, the expression is confined to the ventral portion of the mantle lobe in the fully developed larva. No TtrCdx expression is detectable in the juvenile after metamorphosis. This expression of TtrCdx is congruent with findings in other metazoans, where genes belonging to the Cdx/caudal family are predominantly localized in posterior domains during gastrulation. Later in development this gene will play a fundamental role in the formation of posterior tissues.
TidsskriftGene Expression Patterns
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)427-436
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 1 okt. 2011

ID: 34346979