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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Expression of the ctenophore Brain Factor 1 forkhead gene ortholog (ctenoBF-1) mRNA is restricted to the presumptive mouth and feeding apparatus: implications for axial organization in the Metazoa.

Ctenophores are thoroughly modern animals whose ancestors are derived from a separate evolutionary branch than that of other eumetazoans. Their major longitudinal body axis is the oral-aboral axis. An apical sense organ, called the apical organ, is located at the aboral pole and contains a highly innervated statocyst and photodetecting cells. The apical organ integrates sensory information and controls the locomotory apparatus of ctenophores, the eight longitudinal rows of ctene/comb plates. In an effort to understand the developmental and evolutionary organization of axial properties of ctenophores we have isolated a forkhead gene from the Brain Factor 1 (BF-1) family. This gene, ctenoBF-1, is the first full-length nuclear gene reported from ctenophores. This makes ctenophores the most basal metazoan (to date) known to express definitive forkhead class transcription factors. Orthologs of BF-1 in vertebrates, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis elegans are expressed in anterior neural structures. Surprisingly, in situ hybridizations with ctenoBF-1 antisense riboprobes show that this gene is not expressed in the apical organ of ctenophores. CtenoBF-1 is expressed prior to first cleavage. Transcripts become localized to the aboral pole by the 8-cell stage and are inherited by ectodermal micromeres generated from this region at the 16- and 32-cell stages. Expression in subsets of these cells persists and is seen around the edge of the blastopore (presumptive mouth) and in distinct ectodermal regions along the tentacular poles. Following gastrulation, stomodeal expression begins to fade and intense staining becomes restricted to two distinct domains in each tentacular feeding apparatus. We suggest that the apical organ is not homologous to the brain of bilaterians but that the oral pole of ctenophores corresponds to the anterior pole of bilaterian animals.[1]


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