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Lacalli, TC, Holland LZ.  1998.  The developing dorsal ganglion of the salp Thalia democratica, and the nature of the ancestral chordate brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences. 353:1943-1967. AbstractWebsite

The development of the dorsal ganglion of the salp, Thalia democratica, is described from electron microscope reconstructions up to the stage of central neuropile formation. The central nervous system (CNS) rudiment is initially tubular with an open central canal. Early developmental events include: (i) the formation of a thick dorsal mantle of neuroblasts from which paired dorsal paraxial neuropiles arise; (ii) the differentiation of clusters of primary motor neurons along the ventral margin of the mantle; and (iii) the development from the latter of a series of peripheral nerves. The dorsal paraxial neuropiles ultimately connect to the large central neuropile, which develops later. Direct contact between neuroblasts and muscle appears to be involved in the development of some anterior nerves. The caudal nerves responsible for innervating more distant targets in the posterior part of the body develop without such contacts, which suggests that a different patterning mechanism may be employed in this part of the neuromuscular system. The results are compared with patterns of brain organization in other chordates. Because the salp CNS is symmetrical and generally less reduced than that of ascidian larvae, it is more easily compared with the CNS of amphioxus and vertebrates. The dorsal paraxial centres in the salp resemble the dorsolateral tectal centres in amphioxus in both position and organization; the central neuropile in salps likewise resembles the translumenal system in amphioxus. The neurons themselves are similar in that many of their neurites appear to be derived from the apical surface instead of the basal surface of the cell. Such neurons, with extensively developed apical neurites, may represent a new cell type that evolved in the earliest chordates in conjunction with the formation of translumenal or intralumenal integrative centres. In comparing the salp ganglion with vertebrates, we suggest that the main core of the ganglion is most like the mes-metencephalic region of the vertebrate brain, i.e. the zone occupied by the midbrain, isthmus, and anterior hindbrain. Counterparts of more anterior regions (forebrain) and posterior ones (segmented hindbrain) appear to be absent in salps, but are found in other tunicates, suggesting that evolution has acted quite differently on the main subdivisions of the CNS in different types of tunicates.

Holland, LZ.  2007.  Developmental biology - A chordate with a difference. Nature. 447:153-155.   10.1038/447153a   Website
Holland, LZ, Holland ND, Schubert M.  2000.  Developmental expression of AmphiWnt1, an amphioxus gene in the Wnt1/wingless subfamily. Development Genes and Evolution. 210:522-524.   10.1007/s004270000089   AbstractWebsite

A full-length Wnt1 gene (AmphiWnt1) was isolated from amphioxus. Expression is first detectable in the gastrula around the lip of the blastopore. By the early neurula, transcription is in the mesendoderm near the closed blastopore, but is down-regulated in the overlying ectoderm. In the late neurula, expression is limited to the posterior wall of the neurenteric canal. Later in development, AmphiWnt1 transcripts can no longer be detected. AmphiWnt1 has no counterpart of the predominant expression domains of vertebrate Wnt1 genes in the neural tube, but its expression may be more comparable to that of wingless in the invaginating hindgut primordium of insects.

Kaltenbach, SL, Holland LZ, Holland ND, Koop D.  2009.  Developmental expression of the three iroquois genes of amphioxus (BfIrxA, BfIrxB, and BfIrxC) with special attention to the gastrula organizer and anteroposterior boundaries in the central nervous system. Gene Expression Patterns. 9:329-334.   10.1016/j.gep.2009.02.003   AbstractWebsite

Here we describe the developmental expression of the three iroquois genes (BfIrxA, BfIrxB, and BfIrxC) of amphioxus. BfIrxB transcription is first detected at the gastrula stage in mesendoderm just within the dorsal lip of the blastopore (a probable homolog of Spemann's organizer) and in ectoderm. In early neurulae, expression begins in presumptive pharyngeal endoderm, somitic mesoderm, and neural plate. Mid-neurulae express BfIrxB throughout the hindbrain, posterior somites, pharyngeal endoderm, and notochord. In early larvae, expression is largely downregulated in the nerve cord, somites and notochord, but remains strong in the pharyngeal endoderm associated with the forming gill slits; also, a late expression domain appears in the ciliary tuft ectoderm. BfIrxA and BpIrxC, are not as widely expressed as BfIrxB. Both are first expressed in the presumptive hindbrain and presumptive pharyngeal endoderm at the early neurula stages. In the mid-neurula, additional expression domains appear in the extremities of the notochord. Neural expression is downregulated by late neurula. In the early larva, expression is chiefly limited to pharyngeal endoderm associated with the forming gill slits, excepting a small new domain of BfIrxC (not BfIrxA) expression in the ciliary tuft ectoderm. In comparison to developing vertebrates, embryos and larvae of amphioxus express iroquois genes in fewer tissues. Thus, iroquois genes of the proximate ancestor of the vertebrates evidently assumed numerous new roles during vertebrate evolution. including the division of the central nervous system into several sub-regions along its anteroposterior axis. (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Holland, LZ, Holland ND.  1998.  Developmental gene expression in amphioxus: New insights into the evolutionary origin of vertebrate brain regions, neural crest, and rostrocaudal segmentation. American Zoologist. 38:647-658. AbstractWebsite

Amphioxus is widely held to be the closest invertebrate relative of the vertebrates and the best available stand-in for the proximate ancestor of the vertebrates. The spatiotemporal expression patterns of developmental genes can help suggest body part homologies between vertebrates and amphioxus, This approach is illustrated using five homeobox genes (AmphiHox1, AmphiHox2, AmphiOtx, AmphiDll, and AmphiEn) to pro,ide insights into the evolutionary origins of three important vertebrate features: the major brain regions, the neural crest, and rostrocaudal segmentation. During amphioxus development, the neural expression patterns of these genes are consistent with the presence of a forebrain (detailed neuroanatomy indicates that the forebrain is all diencephalon without any telencephalon) and an extensive hindbrain; the possible presence of a midbrain requires additional study. Further, during neurulation, the expression pattern of AmphiDll as web as migratory cell behavior suggest that the epidermal cells bordering the neural plate may represent a phylogenetic precursor of the vertebrate neural crest. Finally, when the paraxial mesoderm begins to segment, the earliest expression of AmphiEn is detected in the posterior part of each nascent and newly formed somite, This pattern recalls the expression of the segment-polarity gene engrailed during establishment of the segments of metameric protostomes. Thus, during animal evolution, the role of engrailed in establishing and maintaining metameric body plans may have arisen in a common segmented ancestor of both the protostomes and deuterostomes.

Kusakabe, R, Kusakabe T, Satoh N, Holland ND, Holland LZ.  1997.  Differential gene expression and intracellular mRNA localization of amphioxus actin isoforms throughout development: Implications for conserved mechanisms of chordate development. Development Genes and Evolution. 207:203-215.   10.1007/s004270050109   AbstractWebsite

The cephalochordate amphioxus is thought to share a common ancestor with vertebrates. To investigate the evolution of developmental mechanisms in chordates, cDNA clones for two amphioxus actin genes, BfCA1 and BfCA1, were isolated. BfCA1 encodes a cytoplasmic actin and is expressed in a variety of tissues during embryogenesis, beginning in the dorsolateral mesendoderm of the mid-gastrula. At the open neural plate stage, BfCA1 transcripts accumulate at the bases of the neuroectodermal cells adjacent the presumptive notochord. The 3' untranslated region of BfCA1 contains a sequence that is similar to the ''zipcode'' sequence of chicken beta-cytoplasmic actin gene, which is thought to direct intracellular mRNA localization. BfCA1 is also expressed in the notochord through the early larval stage, in the pharynx and in the somites at the onset of muscle-cell differentiation. BfMA1 is a vertebrate-type muscle actin gene, although the deduced amino acid sequence is fairly divergent. Transcripts first appear in the early neurula in the somites as they begin to differentiate into axial muscle cells and persist into the adult stage. In young adults, transcripts are localized in the Z-discs of the muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells around the gill slits and striated muscle cells in the pterygeal muscle also express BfMA1; however, there is never any detectable expression in the notochord, which is a modified striated muscle. Together with the alkali myosin light chain gene AmphiMLC-alk, the sequence and muscle-specific expression of BfMA1 implies a conserved mechanism of muscle cell differentiation between amphioxus and vertebrates. Evolution of the chordate actin gene family is discussed based on molecular phylogenetic analysis and expression patterns of amphioxus actin genes.

Schubert, M, Meulemans D, Bronner-Fraser M, Holland LZ, Holland ND.  2003.  Differential mesodermal expression of two amphioxus MyoD family members (AmphiMRF1 and AmphiMRF2). Gene Expression Patterns. 3:199-202.   10.1016/s1567-133x(02)00099-6   AbstractWebsite

To explore the evolution of myogenic regulatory factors in chordates, we isolated two MyoD family genes (AmphiMRF1 and AmphiMRF2) from amphioxus. AmphiMRF1 is first expressed at the late gastrula in the paraxial mesoderm. As the first somites form, expression is restricted to their myotomal region. In the early larva, expression is strongest in the most anterior and most posterior somites. AmphiMRF2 transcription begins at mid/late gastrula in the paraxial mesoderm, but never spreads into its most anterior region. Through much of the neurula stage, AmphiMRF2 expression is strong in the myotomal region of all somites except the most anterior pair; by late neurula expression is downregulated except in the most posterior somites forming just rostral to the tail bud. These two MRF genes of amphioxus have partly overlapping patterns of mesodermal expression and evidently duplicated independent of the diversification of the vertebrate MRF family. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Holland, LZ, Gorsky G, Fenaux R.  2003.  A diversity of sperm in appendicularians. Are appendicularians monophyletic? pp. 210-239. Response of Marine Ecosystems to Global Change: Ecological Impact of Appendicularians. ( Gorsky G, Youngbluth M, Deibel D, Eds.).: Landes Biosciences