Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 220, Issue 5–6, pp 161–172 | Cite as

Expression of Hox genes during the larval development of the snail, Gibbula varia (L.)—further evidence of non-colinearity in molluscs

  • Leyli Samadi
  • Gerhard Steiner
Original Article


Hox transcription factors, a subfamily of homeobox genes, are expressed in distinct, often overlapping domains along the anterior–posterior body axis of animal embryos. Here, we report the sequence and expression pattern of Hox2, Hox3, Hox4, Hox5, Lox5, Hox7, Lox4, and Lox2 in different larval stages during the encapsulated development of the marine gastropod Gibbula varia. Our results show that all Gva-Hox genes are expressed in ectoderm-derived cells. Hox2, Hox3, Hox4, Hox5, and Hox7 are expressed in overlapping patterns in the pedal, pleural, oesophageal, and visceral ganglia, supporting the ancestral role of Hox genes in the neurogenesis processes in bilaterians. Gva-Hox1, Gva-Post2, and Gva-Post1 genes are involved in shell morphogenesis and have apparently lost their role in neurogangliogenesis. Lox5, Lox4, and Lox2 are expressed in different cells of the apical organ during the earlier larval stage (trochophore) and the cerebral ganglia during later larval stages (veliger). These results support the hypothesis that apical organ neurosensory cells contribute to the formation of cerebral ganglia commissures during metamorphosis. Gva-Hox7 and Gva-Lox4 are additionally expressed in the prototroch of the trochophore and in the velar area of the veliger larvae. This contradicts with the expression of these genes in the annelids, where most of Hox genes are expressed in the posttrochal area and are involved in segmental determination. Therefore, expression of Hox genes may serve as an example of co-option and plasticity of gene function during evolution of gastropods.


Gastropod Hox genes Trochophore larva Veliger larva Neurogangliogenesis 



The authors are thankful to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Leyli Samadi was supported by an EC fellowship within the MOLMORPH network under the 6th Framework Programme “Marie Curie Fellowships for Early Stage Research Training (EST)” (contract number MEST-CT-2005-020542). We are grateful to Prof. Michael Stachowitsch for improving the English.

Supplementary material

427_2010_338_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (448 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 447 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Phylogenetics, Department of Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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