The recently sequenced genomes of amphioxus (Branchiostoma sp.), a basal lineage of chordates, are proving to be immensely valuable for revealing characteristics of the organisation of the genomes of the chordate and vertebrate ancestors. Amphioxus has retained the full complement of homeobox gene families that are inferred to have been present in the chordate ancestor.
Other chordate lineages have lost some of these gene families. Amphioxus thus provides us with a system with which to understand how these important developmental control genes have been involved in the evolution of the animal lineage containing humans.
- Marletaz, F. et al. Amphioxus functional genomics and the origins of vertebrate gene regulation. Nature (2018) 564, 64-70.
- Barton-Owen, T.B., Ferrier, D.E.K. & Somorjai, I.M.L. Pax3/7 duplicated and diverged independently in amphioxus, the basal chordate lineage. Scientific Reports (2018) 8:9414.
- Ferrier, D.E.K. Evolution of homeobox gene clusters in animals: the Giga-cluster and primary versus secondary clustering. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2016) 4:36.
- Butts, T., Holland, P.W.H. and Ferrier, D.E.K. Ancient homeobox gene loss and the evolution of chordate brain and pharynx development: deductions from amphioxus gene expression. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (2010) 277, 3381-3389.
- Holland, L.Z., et al. The amphioxus genome illuminates vertebrate origins and cephalochordate biology. Genome Research (2008) 18, 1100-1111.
- Putnam, N.H. et al. The amphioxus genome and the evolution of the chordate karyotype. Nature (2008) 453, 1064-1071.
- Takatori, N., Butts, T., Candiani, S., Pestarino, M., Ferrier, D.E.K., Saiga, H. and Holland, P.W.H. Comprehensive survey and classification of homeobox genes in the genome of amphioxus, Branchiostoma floridae. Development Genes and Evolution (2008) 218, 579-590.