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The first chordates appear in the fossil record at the time of the Cambrian explosion, nearly 550 million years ago. The modern ascidian tadpole represents a plausible approximation to these ancestral chordates. To illuminate the origins of chordate and vertebrates, we generated a draft of the protein-coding portion of the genome of the most studied(More)
The notochord and dorsal ectoderm induce dorsoventral compartmentalization of the vertebrate neural tube through the differential regulation of genes such as HNF-3beta, Pax3, Pax6 and snail. Here we analyze the expression of HNF-3beta and snail homologues in the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis, a member of the subphylum Urochordata, the earliest branch in the(More)
What Is an Ascidian? Ascidians, or sea squirts, are invertebrate chordates that belong to the earliest branch in the chordate phylum, the subphylum Urochordata or Tunicata (Figure 1A). Ascid-ian larvae possess a prototypical chordate body plan involve cellular rearrangements that are comparable to those seen in vertebrates, except that ascidian embryos …at(More)
The ascidian tadpole represents the most simplified chordate body plan. It contains a notochord composed of just 40 cells, but as in vertebrates Brachyury is essential for notochord differentiation. Here, we show that the misexpression of the Brachyury gene (Ci-Bra) of Ciona intestinalis is sufficient to transform endoderm into notochord. Subtractive(More)
We report the cloning and expression pattern of Ci-msxb the second Ciona intestinalis homeobox gene homologue to the Drosophila muscle segment homeobox (msh) gene. Northern blot analysis showed that transcripts appeared at gastrula stage, peaked in the early tailbud and decreased during the tailed stages. Whole mount in situ hybridization showed that the(More)
Hox genes are organized in genomic clusters. In all organisms where their role has been studied, Hox genes determine developmental fate along the antero-posterior axis. Hence, these genes represent an ideal system for the understanding of relationships between the number and expression of genes and body organization. We report in this paper that the(More)
The ascidian Ciona intestinalis is one of the model organisms of choice for comparative investigations of chordate development and for unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying morphogenesis and cell fate specification. Taking advantage of the availability of various genetically encoded fluorescent proteins and of defined cis-regulatory elements, we(More)
Thanks to their transparent and rapidly developing mosaic embryos, ascidians (or sea squirts) have been a model system for embryological studies for over a century. Recently, ascidians have entered the postgenomic era, with the sequencing of the Ciona intestinalis genome and the accumulation of molecular resources that rival those available for fruit flies(More)
Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) constitute a family of neuron-specific voltage-insensitive sodium channels gated by extracellular protons. Functions of ASICs in mammals include nociception, mechanosensation, and modulation of synaptic transmission. However, the role protons play in mediating the effects of ASICs remains elusive. We have examined ASICs(More)
BACKGROUND The notochord is a defining feature of the chordate clade, and invertebrate chordates, such as tunicates, are uniquely suited for studies of this structure. Here we used a well-characterized set of 50 notochord genes known to be targets of the notochord-specific Brachyury transcription factor in one tunicate, Ciona intestinalis (Class(More)