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Expression of FoxA and GATA transcription factors correlates with regionalized gut development in two lophotrochozoan marine worms: Chaetopterus (Annelida) and Themiste lageniformis (Sipuncula)

Author(s): Boyle Michael J | Seaver Elaine C

Journal: EvoDevo
ISSN 2041-9139

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 2;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background A through gut is present in almost all metazoans, and most likely represents an ancient innovation that enabled bilaterian animals to exploit a wide range of habitats. Molecular developmental studies indicate that Fox and GATA regulatory genes specify tissue regions along the gut tube in a broad diversity of taxa, although little is known about gut regionalization within the Lophotrochozoa. In this study, we isolated FoxA and GATA456 orthologs and used whole mount in situ hybridization during larval gut formation in two marine worms: the segmented, polychaete annelid Chaetopterus, which develops a planktotrophic larva with a tripartite gut, and the non-segmented sipunculan Themiste lageniformis, which develops a lecithotrophic larva with a U-shaped gut. Results FoxA and GATA456 transcripts are predominantly restricted to gut tissue, and together show regional expression spanning most of the alimentary canal in each of these lophotrochozoans, although neither FoxA nor GATA456 is expressed in the posterior intestine of Chaetopterus. In both species, FoxA is expressed at the blastula stage, transiently in presumptive endoderm before formation of a definitive gut tube, and throughout early larval development in discrete foregut and hindgut domains. GATA456 genes are expressed during endoderm formation, and in endoderm and mesoderm associated with the midgut in each species. Several species-specific differences were detected, including an overlap of FoxA and GATA456 expression in the intestinal system of Themiste, which is instead complimentary in Chaetopterus. Other differences include additional discrete expression domains of FoxA in ectodermal trunk cells in Themiste but not Chaetopterus, and expression of GATA456 in anterior ectoderm and midgut cells unique to Chaetopterus. Conclusions This study of gene expression in a sipunculan contributes new comparative developmental insights from lophotrochozoans, and shows that FoxA and GATA456 transcription factors are part of an ancient patterning mechanism that was deployed during early evolution of the metazoan through gut. The common utilization of FoxA and GATA456 throughout gut formation by species with contrasting life history modes indicates that both genes are core components of a gut-specific gene regulatory network in spiralians. Despite a highly conserved pattern of early development, and probably similar ontogenic origins of gut tissue, there are molecular differences in gut regionalization between lophotrochozoan species.
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