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Lancelets ('amphioxus') are the modern survivors of an ancient chordate lineage, with a fossil record dating back to the Cambrian period. Here we describe the structure and gene content of the highly polymorphic approximately 520-megabase genome of the Florida lancelet Branchiostoma floridae, and analyse it in the context of chordate evolution. Whole-genome(More)
Cephalochordates, urochordates, and vertebrates evolved from a common ancestor over 520 million years ago. To improve our understanding of chordate evolution and the origin of vertebrates, we intensively searched for particular genes, gene families, and conserved noncoding elements in the sequenced genome of the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae,(More)
One of the main aims of developmental biology is to understand how a single and apparently homogeneous egg cell achieves the intricate complexity of the adult. Here we present two models to explain the generation of developmental patterns through interactions at the gene level. One model considers direct-contact induction between cells while the other takes(More)
Alternative splicing (AS) contributes to increased transcriptome and proteome diversity in various eukaryotic lineages. Previous studies showed low levels of conservation of alternatively spliced (cassette) exons within mammals and within dipterans. We report a strikingly different pattern in Caenorhabditis nematodes-more than 92% of cassette exons from(More)
Among the numerous tyrosine kinase receptors, those belonging to the Trk family are distinctively involved in the development of complex traits within the vertebrate nervous system. Until recently, the lack of a proper Nt/Trk system in invertebrates has lead to the belief that they were a vertebrate innovation. Recent data, however, have challenged the(More)
Several DNA sequences similar to the mariner element were isolated and characterized in the platyhelminthe Dugesia (Girardia) tigrina. They were 1,288 bp long, flanked by two 32 bp-inverted repeats, and contained a single 339 amino acid open-reading frame (ORF) encoding the transposase. The number of copies of this element is approximately 8,000 per haploid(More)
Hox genes, with their similar roles in animals as evolutionarily distant as humans and flies, have fascinated biologists since their discovery nearly 30 years ago. During the last two decades, reports on Hox genes from a still growing number of eumetazoan species have increased our knowledge on the Hox gene contents of a wide range of animal groups. In this(More)
D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) is present in invertebrate and vertebrate neuroendocrine tissues, where it carries out important physiological functions and is implicated in nervous system development. We show here that D-Asp is a novel endogenous neurotransmitter in two distantly related animals, a mammal (Rattus norvegicus) and a mollusk (Loligo vulgaris). Our(More)
Brain function requires neuronal activity-dependent energy consumption. Neuronal energy supply is controlled by molecular mechanisms that regulate mitochondrial dynamics, including Kinesin motors and Mitofusins, Miro1-2 and Trak2 proteins. Here we show a new protein family that localizes to the mitochondria and controls mitochondrial dynamics. This family(More)
The discovery that most regulatory genes were conserved among animals from distant phyla challenged the ideas that gene duplication and divergence of homologous coding sequences were the basis for major morphological changes in metazoan evolution. In recent years, however, the interest for the roles, conservation and changes of non-coding sequences grew-up(More)