, Volume 212, Issue 9, pp 432-438

Fgf genes in the basal chordate Ciona intestinalis

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In vertebrates, a number of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) have been shown to play important roles in developing embryos and adult organisms. However, the molecular relationships of the vertebrate FGFs are not yet completely understood, partly due to the divergence of their amino acid sequences. To solve this problem, we have identified six FGF genes in a basal chordate, the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. A phylogenetic analysis confidently assigned two of them to vertebrate FGF8/17/18 and FGF11/12/13/14, respectively. Based on the presence of the conserved domains within or outside of the FGF domains, we speculate that three of the other genes are orthologous to vertebrate FGF3/7/10/22, FGF4/5/6 and FGF9/16/20, respectively, although we cannot assign the sixth member to any of the vertebrate FGFs. A survey of the raw whole genome shotgun sequences of C. intestinalis demonstrated the presence of no FGF genes other than the six genes in the genome. The identification of these six FGF genes in the basal chordate gave us an insight into the diversification of specific subfamilies of vertebrate FGFs.

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