DEVELOPMENT: Same Difference: Sea Urchins or Starfish

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Science  05 Dec 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5651, pp. 1627d
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5651.1627d

Evolutionary forces are known to work on the gene at many levels, from sequence to organization. In the sea urchin, there have been extensive efforts to map the network responsible for endoderm formation. Despite their differences—including the ability of sea urchin larvae to form a skeleton during embryogenesis—endoderm formation shows similarities between sea urchins and starfish.

Hinman et al. studied the conservation and changes in embryonic gene regulatory networks during the course of metazoan evolution. They compared the expression patterns of genes involved in endoderm formation in embryo development and the effects of perturbing expression profiles. A crucial feedback loop involving three transcription factors was found to be almost identical in both of these evolutionarily distant species. — BJ

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100, 13356 (2003).

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