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- NSF-PAR ID:
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- Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) have been the dominant lineage of deuterostomes for nearly three hundred fifty million years. Only a few lineages of jawless vertebrates remain in comparison. Composed of lampreys and hagfishes (cyclostomes), these jawless survivors are important systems for understanding the evolution of vertebrates. One focus of cyclostome research has been head skeleton development, as its evolution has been a driver of vertebrate morphological diversification. Recent work has identified hyaline-like cartilage in the oral cirri of the invertebrate chordate amphioxus, making cyclostomes critical for understanding the stepwise acquisition of vertebrate chondroid tissues. Our knowledge of cyclostome skeletogenesis, however, has lagged behind gnathostomes due to the difficulty of manipulating lamprey and hagfish embryos. In this review, we discuss and compare the regulation and histogenesis of cyclostome and gnathostome skeletal tissues. We also survey differences in skeletal morphology that we see amongst cyclostomes, as few elements can be confidently homologized between them. A recurring theme is the heterogeneity of skeletal morphology amongst living vertebrates, despite conserved genetic regulation. Based on these comparisons, we suggest a model through which these mesenchymal connective tissues acquired distinct histologies and that histological flexibility in cartilage existed in the last common ancestor of modern vertebrates.more » « less
Nitric oxide (NO) is an ancestral key signalling molecule essential for life and has enormous versatility in biological systems, including cardiovascular homeostasis, neurotransmission and immunity. Although our knowledge of NO synthases (Nos), the enzymes that synthesize NO in vivo , is substantial, the origin of a large and diversified repertoire of nos gene orthologues in fishes with respect to tetrapods remains a puzzle. The recent identification of nos3 in the ray-finned fish spotted gar, which was considered lost in this lineage, changed this perspective. This finding prompted us to explore nos gene evolution, surveying vertebrate species representing key evolutionary nodes. This study provides noteworthy findings: first, nos2 experienced several lineage-specific gene duplications and losses. Second, nos3 was found to be lost independently in two different teleost lineages, Elopomorpha and Clupeocephala. Third, the expression of at least one nos paralogue in the gills of developing shark, bichir, sturgeon, and gar, but not in lamprey, suggests that nos expression in this organ may have arisen in the last common ancestor of gnathostomes. These results provide a framework for continuing research on nos genes’ roles, highlighting subfunctionalization and reciprocal loss of function that occurred in different lineages during vertebrate genome duplications.more » « less
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Growth hormone receptor (GHR) and prolactin receptor (PRLR) in jawed vertebrates were thought to arise after the divergence of gnathostomes from a basal vertebrate. In this study we have identified two genes encoding putative GHR and PRLR in sea lamprey (
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Abstract The Zinc Fingers and Homeoboxes (Zhx) proteins, Zhx1, Zhx2, and Zhx3, comprise a small family of proteins containing two amino-terminal C2–H2 zinc fingers and four or five carboxy-terminal homeodomains. These multiple homeodomains make Zhx proteins unusual because the majority of homeodomain-containing proteins contain a single homeodomain. Studies in cultured cells and mice suggest that Zhx proteins can function as positive or negative transcriptional regulators. Zhx2 regulates numerous hepatic genes, and all three Zhx proteins have been implicated in different cancers. Because Zhx proteins contain multiple predicted homeodomains, are associated with interesting physiological traits, and seem to be only present in the vertebrate lineage, we investigated the evolutionary history of this small family by comparing Zhx homologs from a wide range of chordates. This analysis indicates that the zinc finger motifs and homeodomains are highly similar among all Zhx proteins and also identifies additional Zhx-specific conserved regions, including a 13 amino acid amino-terminal motif that is nearly identical among all gnathostome Zhx proteins. We found single Zhx proteins in the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) and in the nonvertebrate chordates sea squirt (Ciona intestinalis) and lancelet (Branchiostoma floridae); these Zhx proteins are most similar to gnathostome Zhx3. Based on our analyses, we propose that a duplication of the primordial Zhx gene gave rise to Zhx3 and the precursor to Zhx1 and Zhx2. A subsequent tandem duplication of this precursor generated Zhx1 and Zhx2 found in gnathostomes.more » « less