, Volume 213, Issue 11, pp 573-576
Date: 10 Sep 2003

Evolution of echinoderms may not have required modification of the ancestral deuterostome HOX gene cluster: first report of PG4 and PG5 Hox orthologues in echinoderms

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Abstract

Is the extreme derivation of the echinoderm body plan reflected in a derived echinoderm Hox genotype? Building on previous work, we exploited the sequence conservation of the homeobox to isolate putative orthologues of several Hox genes from two asteroid echinoderms. The 5-peptide motif (LPNTK) diagnostic of PG4 Hox genes was identified immediately downstream of one of the partial homeodomains from Patiriella exigua. This constitutes the first unequivocal report of a PG4 Hox gene orthologue from an echinoderm. Subsequent screenings identified genes of both PG4 and PG4/5 in Asterias rubens. Although in echinoids only a single gene (PG4/5) occupies these two contiguous cluster positions, we conclude that the ancestral echinoderm must have had the complete deuterostome suite of medial Hox genes, including orthologues of both PG4 and PG4/5 (= PG5). The reported absence of PG4 in the HOX cluster of echinoids is therefore a derived state, and the ancestral echinoderm probably had a HOX cluster not dissimilar to that of other deuterostomes. Modification of the ancestral deuterostome Hox genotype may not have been required for evolution of the highly derived echinoderm body plan.

Edited by M. Akam