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
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Long, S., Martinez, P., Chen, WC. et al. Dev Genes Evol (2003) 213: 573. doi:10.1007/s00427-003-0355-3
- 127 Downloads
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.