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Hox genes are evolutionarily conserved transcription factor genes that are organized in clusters on chromosomes and function, in part, to pattern the anterior-posterior (AP) axis during animal embryonic development. In comparison to invertebrates, which have just one cluster of Hox genes, multiple whole genome duplication events have resulted in at least four clusters in vertebrates. These genes exhibit temporal and spatial collinearity, such that Hox genes located more 3’ on a chromosome are expressed earlier and more anteriorly during development while those located more 5’ are expressed later and more posteriorly. More anterior Hox genes are expressed within and function to pattern the rhombomeres, or transient compartments that give rise to the cranial nerves within the developing head. The expression patterns of Hox paralog group (PG) 4 genes, Hoxa4, b4, c4, and d4 have been shown to be conserved across several evolutionarily divergent gnathostome vertebrates, including the mouse (Mus musculus), chicken (Gallus gallus), and dogfish shark (Scyliorhinus canicula). Specifically, while Hoxa4, b4, and d4 show an anterior limit of expression in the most posterior rhombomeres, Hoxc4 is expressed posterior to the rhombomeres within the developing spinal cord. Here, we present the expression patterns of brown anole (Anolis sagrei) Hoxa4, b4, c4, and d4. We show through in situ hybridization and bioinformatics analyses that these reptilian Hox genes are expressed and regulated similarly to those of mouse, chicken, and shark. Altogether, our data show that the expression and function of Hox PG4 genes are conserved throughout several gnathostome vertebrates.


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  • Subject
    • Biology

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3110

  • Event date
    • 25 March 2022

  • Date submitted

    20 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Adam Davis