Publications

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2002
Yu, JK, Holland LZ, Jamrich M, Blitz IL, Holland ND.  2002.  AmphiFoxE4, an amphioxus winged helix/forkhead gene encoding a protein closely related to vertebrate thyroid transcription factor-2: expression during pharyngeal development. Evolution & Development. 4:9-15.   10.1046/j.1525-142x.2002.01057.x   AbstractWebsite

The full-length sequence and developmental expression of amphioxus AmphiFoxE4 are described. Transcripts of the gene are first detected in the pharyngeal endoderm, where the club-shaped gland is forming and subsequently in the definitive gland itself. AmphiFoxE4 is closely related to vertebrate genes encoding the thyroid-specific transcription factor-2 (TTF2), which plays an early developmental role in the morphogenesis of the thyroid gland and a later role in hormone-mediated control of thyroid function. In amphioxus, AmphiFoxE4 expression is not thyroid specific because the club-shaped gland, the only structure expressing the gene, is not homologous to the vertebrate thyroid; in-stead, the thyroid homologue of amphioxus is a specialized region of the pharyngeal endoderm called the endostyle. We propose that (a) the pharynx of an amphioxus-like ancestor of the vertebrates included a club-shaped gland that expressed FoxE4 as well as an endostyle that did not, and (b) the club-shaped gland soon disappeared in the vertebrate line of descent but (c) not before there was a homeogenetic transfer of FoxE4 expression from the club-shaped gland to the nearby endostyle. Such a transfer could have provided part of the genetic program enabling the endostyle to separate from the pharyngeal endoderm and migrate away as the rudiment of the thyroid gland.

1999
Holland, LZ, Schubert M, Kozmik Z, Holland ND.  1999.  AmphiPax3/7, an amphioxus paired box gene: insights into chordate myogenesis, neurogenesis, and the possible evolutionary precursor of definitive vertebrate neural crest. Evolution & Development. 1:153-165.   10.1046/j.1525-142x.1999.99019.x   AbstractWebsite

Amphioxus probably has only a single gene (AmphiPax3/7 ) in the Pax3/7 subfamily. Like its vertebrate homologs (Pax3 and Pax7 ), amphioxus AmphiPax3/7 is probably involved in specifying the axial musculature and muscularized notochord. During nervous system development, AmphiPax3/7 is first expressed in bilateral anteroposterior stripes along the edges of the neural plate. This early neural expression may be comparable to the transcription of Pax3 and Pax7 in some of the anterior neural crest cells of vertebrates. Previous studies by others and ourselves have demonstrated that several genes homologous to genetic markers for vertebrate neural crest are expressed along the neural plate-epidermis boundary in embryos of tunicates and amphioxus. Taken together, the early neural expression patterns of AmphiPax3/7 and other neural crest markers of amphioxus and tunicates suggest that cell populations that eventually gave rise to definitive vertebrate neural crest may have been present in ancestral invertebrate chordates. During later neurogenesis in amphioxus, AmphiPax3/7, like its vertebrate homologs, is expressed dorsally and dorsolaterally in the neural tube and may be involved in dorsoventral patterning. However, unlike its vertebrate homologs, AmphiPax3/7 is expressed only at the anterior end of the central nervous system instead of along much of the neuraxis; this amphioxus pattern may represent the loss of a primitive chordate character.