Evidence for the derivation of the Drosophila fushi tarazu gene from a Hox gene orthologous to lophotrochozoan Lox5

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Abstract

The DNA-binding homeobox motif was first identified in several Drosophila homeotic genes but also in fushi tarazu, a gene found in the Hox cluster yet involved in segmentation, not anteroposterior patterning [1]. Homeotic transformations are not seen in insect ftz mutants, and insect ftz genes do not have Hox-like expression except within the nervous system [2,3]. Insect ftz homeobox sequences link them to the Antp-class genes and Tribolium and Schistocerca orthologs have Antp-class YPWM motifs amino-terminal to the homeobox [2,3]. Orthologs of ftz cloned from a centipede and an onychophoran [4] show that it predates the emergence of the arthropods, but the inability to pinpoint non-arthropodan orthologs suggested that ftz is the product of a Hox gene duplication in the arthropod ancestor [4,5]. I have cloned ftz orthologs from a mite and a tardigrade, arthropod outgroups of the insects [6]. Mite ftz is expressed in a Hox-like pattern, confirming its ancestral role in anteroposterior patterning. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that arthropod ftz genes are orthologous to the Lox5 genes of lophotrochozoans (a group that includes molluscs) [7] and, possibly, with the Mab-5 genes of nematodes and Hox6 genes of deuterostomes and would therefore have been present in the triploblast ancestor.

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Telford, M. J. (2000). Evidence for the derivation of the Drosophila fushi tarazu gene from a Hox gene orthologous to lophotrochozoan Lox5. Current Biology, 10(6), 349–352. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-9822(00)00387-0

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