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MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs that act post-transcriptionally to regulate gene expression levels. Some studies have indicated that microRNAs may have low homoplasy, and as a consequence the phylogenetic distribution of microRNA families has been used to study animal evolutionary relationships. Limited levels of lineage sampling, however, may distort such analyses. Lophotrochozoa is an under-sampled taxon that includes molluscs, annelids and nemerteans, among other phyla. Here, we present two novel draft genomes, those of the limpet Patella vulgata and polychaete Spirobranchus (Pomatoceros) lamarcki. Surveying these genomes for known microRNAs identifies numerous potential orthologues, including a number that have been considered to be confined to other lineages. RT-PCR demonstrates that some of these (miR-1285, miR-1287, miR-1957, miR-1983 and miR-3533), previously thought to be found only in vertebrates, are expressed. This study provides genomic resources for two lophotrochozoans and reveals patterns of microRNA evolution that could be hidden by more restricted sampling.

Original publication




Journal article


Mar Genomics

Publication Date



24 Pt 2


139 - 146


Annelid, Genome, Lophotrochozoan, MicroRNA, Mollusc, Phylogeny, Spiralian, Animals, Annelida, Biological Evolution, Gene Expression Regulation, Genome, Genomics, MicroRNAs, Mollusca