Expression of Hox4 during development of the pentamerous juvenile sea star, Parvulastra exigua
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Expression of Hox4 during development of the bilateral larva and pentameral juvenile sea star was investigated in Parvulastra exigua. The role of Hox4, possibly the anterior-most gene in the echinoderm Hox cluster, in the formation of the echinoderm adult body plan has not been examined previously. In the larva of P. exigua, PeHox4 is expressed in the developing coeloms—the anterior and the right and left coeloms that generate the aboral and oral coeloms of the juvenile. At the rudiment stage, PeHox4 was expressed in the five primary lobes of the hydrocoel that give rise to primary podia, the foundation of the adult body plan. This suggests a role for this gene in the development of the echinoderm body plan. In contrast to other bilaterians, Hox4 was not expressed in the developing asteroid central nervous system.