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In the human genome, members of the FoxC, FoxF, FoxL1, and FoxQ1 gene families are found in two paralagous clusters. One cluster contains the genes FOXQ1, FOXF2, FOXC1 and the second consists of FOXF1, FOXC2, and FOXL1. In jawed vertebrates these genes are known to be expressed in different pharyngeal tissues and all, except FoxQ1, are involved in patterning the early embryonic mesoderm. We have previously traced the evolution of this cluster in the bony vertebrates, and the gene content is identical in the dogfish, a member of the most basally branching lineage of the jawed vertebrates. Here we extend these analyses to jawless vertebrates. Using genomic searches and molecular approaches we have identified homologues of these genes from lampreys. We identify two FoxC genes, two FoxF genes, two FoxQ1 genes and single FoxL1 gene. We examine the embryonic expression of one predominantly mesodermally expressed gene family, FoxC, and the endodermally expressed member of the cluster, FoxQ1. We identified FoxQ1 transcripts in the pharyngeal endoderm, while the two FoxC genes are differentially expressed in the pharyngeal mesenchyme and ectoderm. Furthermore we identify conserved expression of lamprey FoxC genes in the paraxial and intermediate mesoderms. We interpret our results through a chordate-wide comparison of expression patterns and discuss gene content in the context of theories on the evolution of the vertebrate genome.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





30 - 40


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Evolution, Molecular, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Gene Expression Profiling, Genomics, Lampreys, Mesoderm, Molecular Sequence Data, Multigene Family, Phylogeny