Evolution of gene regulatory network topology and dorsal-ventral axis specification in early development of sea urchins (Echinoidea)

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Eric M Erkenbrack


Developmental gene regulatory networks (dGRNs) are assemblages of interacting regulatory factors that direct ontogeny of animal body plans. The hierarchical topology of these networks predicts that their nodes will evolve at different rates and consequently will bias the trajectories of embryonic evolution. To test this, detailed, comparative analyses of dGRNs that specify early, global embryonic domains are required. The most extensively detailed dGRNs have been documented for one of the two subclasses of extant sea urchins, the euechinoids. Remarkably, euechinoid dGRNs operating in early development show little appreciable change even though they diverged approximately 90 million years ago (mya). Therefore, to better understand the evolutionary dynamics of dGRNs, comparative microdissection must be undertaken for sea urchins that diverged deeper in geological time. Recent studies of cidaroids, the sister clade of euechinoid sea urchins, suggest that comparative analyses of their embryonic domain specification may prove insightful for understanding the evolutionary dynamics of dGRNs. Here, I report the spatiotemporal dynamics of 19 regulatory factors involved in dorsal-ventral patterning of non-skeletogenic mesodermal and ecto...Continue Reading

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