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A Comprehensive Analysis of Fibrillar Collagens in Lamprey Suggests a Conserved Role in Vertebrate Musculoskeletal EvolutionVertebrates have distinct tissues which are not present in invertebrate chordates nor other metazoans. The rise of these tissues also coincided with at least one round of whole-genome duplication as well as a suite of lineage-specific segmental duplications. Understanding whether novel genes lead to the origin and diversification of novel cell types, therefore, is of great importance in vertebrate evolution. Here we were particularly interested in the evolution of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system, the muscles and connective tissues that support a diversity of body plans. A major component of the musculoskeletal extracellular matrix (ECM) is fibrillar collagens, a gene family which has been greatly expanded upon in vertebrates. We thus asked whether the repertoire of fibrillar collagens in vertebrates reflects differences in the musculoskeletal system. To test this, we explored the diversity of fibrillar collagens in lamprey, a jawless vertebrate which diverged from jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) more than five hundred million years ago and has undergone its own gene duplications. Some of the principal components of vertebrate hyaline cartilage are the fibrillar collagens type II and XI, but their presence in cartilage development across all vertebrate taxa has been disputed. We particularly emphasized the characterization of genes in the lampreymore »
Comparative Approaches in Vertebrate Cartilage Histogenesis and Regulation: Insights from Lampreys and HagfishesJawed 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.