An amphioxus Krox gene: insights into vertebrate hindbrain evolution.
Knight RD., Panopoulou GD., Holland PW., Shimeld SM.
The transcription factor Krox-20 has roles in the maintenance of segmentation and specification of segment identity in the vertebrate hindbrain. Overt hindbrain segmentation is a vertebrate novelty, and is not seen in invertebrate chordates such as amphioxus and tunicates. To test if the roles of Krox-20 are also derived, we cloned a Krox-20 related gene, AmphiKrox, from amphioxus. AmphiKrox is related to a small family of vertebrate Krox genes and is expressed in the most anterior region of the amphioxus brain and in the club shaped gland, a secretory organ that develops in the anterior pharynx. Neither expression domain overlaps with the expression of AmphiHox-1, -2, -3 or -4, suggesting that the roles of Krox-20 in hindbrain segmentation and in Hox gene regulation were acquired concomitant with the duplication of Krox genes in vertebrate evolution.