Clustered Fox genes in lophotrochozoans and the evolution of the bilaterian Fox gene cluster.
Shimeld SM., Boyle MJ., Brunet T., Luke GN., Seaver EC.
FoxC, FoxF, FoxL1 and FoxQ1 genes have been shown to be clustered in some animal genomes, with mesendodermal expression hypothesised as a selective force maintaining cluster integrity. Hypotheses are, however, constrained by a lack of data from the Lophotrochozoa. Here we characterise members of the FoxC, FoxF, FoxL1 and FoxQ1 families from the annelid Capitella teleta and the molluscs Lottia gigantea and Patella vulgata. We cloned FoxC, FoxF, FoxL1 and FoxQ1 genes from C. teleta, and FoxC, FoxF and FoxL1 genes from P. vulgata, and established their expression during development. We also examined their genomic organisation in C. teleta and L. gigantea, and investigated local syntenic relationships. Our results show mesodermal and anterior gut expression is a common feature of these genes in lophotrochozoans. In L. gigantea FoxC, FoxF and FoxL1 are closely linked, while in C. teleta Ct-foxC and Ct-foxL1 are closely linked, with Ct-foxF and Ct-foxQ1 on different scaffolds. Adjacent to these genes there is limited evidence of local synteny. This demonstrates conservation of genomic organisation and expression of these genes can be traced in all three bilaterian Superphyla. These data are evaluated against competing theories for the long-term maintenance of gene clusters.