The amphioxus Hox cluster: deuterostome posterior flexibility and Hox14.
Ferrier DE., Minguillón C., Holland PW., Garcia-Fernàndez J.
The amphioxus (Branchiostoma floridae) Hox cluster is a model for the ancestral vertebrate cluster, prior to the hypothesized genome-wide duplications that may have facilitated the evolution of the vertebrate body plan. Here we describe the posterior (5') genes of the amphioxus cluster, and report the isolation of four new homeobox genes. Vertebrates possess 13 types of Hox gene (paralogy groups), but we show that amphioxus possesses more than 13 Hox genes. Amphioxus is now the first animal in which a Hox14 gene has been found. Our mapping and phylogenetic analysis of amphioxus "Posterior Class" Hox genes reveals that these genes are evolving at a faster rate in deuterostomes than in protostomes, a phenomenon we term Posterior Flexibility.