Int. J. Dev. Biol. 53: 765 - 773 (2009)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072533km
© UBC Press

The evolution and maintenance of Hox gene clusters in vertebrates and the teleost-specific genome duplication

Shigehiro Kuraku and Axel Meyer*

Lehrstuhl für Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany

ABSTRACT Hox genes are known to specify spatial identities along the anterior-posterior axis during embryogenesis. In vertebrates and most other deuterostomes, they are arranged in sets of uninterrupted clusters on chromosomes, and are in most cases expressed in a "colinear" fashion, in which genes closer to the 3’-end of the Hox clusters are expressed earlier and more anteriorly and genes close to the 5’-end of the clusters later and more posteriorly. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of how Hox gene clusters have been modified from basal lineages of deuterostomes to diverse taxa of vertebrates. Our parsimony reconstruction of Hox cluster architecture at various stages of vertebrate evolution highlights that the variation in Hox cluster structures among jawed vertebrates is mostly due to secondary lineage-specific gene losses and an additional genome duplication that occurred in the actinopterygian stem lineage, the teleost-specific genome duplication (TSGD).

Keywords:

colinearity, two-round genome duplication, secondary gene loss

*Corresponding author e-mail: axel.meyer@uni-konstanz.de