Margherita Branno

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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)
We report the sequence and analysis of the 814-megabase genome of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, a model for developmental and systems biology. The sequencing strategy combined whole-genome shotgun and bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) sequences. This use of BAC clones, aided by a pooling strategy, overcame difficulties associated with(More)
A Ciona intestinalis cDNA clone that encodes a protein highly homologous to other tyrosinases was isolated. Northern blot analysis showed that expression of Ciona tyrosinase starts at the early neurula stage and continues throughout the tail-bud and tadpole larval stages. The earliest tyrosinase expression was detected, by in situ hybridization, at the(More)
In solitary ascidians the fate of endoderm is determined at a very early stage of development and depends on cytoplasmic factors whose nature has not been determined. We have isolated a member of the NK-2 gene family, Cititf1, from the ascidian Ciona intestinalis, showing high sequence homology to mammalian TITF1. The Cititf1 gene was expressed in all(More)
 In this paper we report the cloning, sequence and expression analysis of a new Ciona intestinalis hox gene. On the basis of sequence comparison with mammalian and Amphioxus homologues, we called this gene Cihox5. Northern blot analysis reveals a single transcript of about 1.3 kb in length, that is present from neurula until larva stage. Whole-mount in situ(More)
In order to isolate genes important in controlling embryonic development in Tunicates, a genomic library from the ascidian Ciona intestinalis was screened with a degenerate oligodeoxyribonucleotide encoding the third helix of Antennapedia-type homeoboxes. Fourteen C. intestinalis homeobox genes, corresponding to several classes of homeodomains, have been(More)
Several homeobox-containing genes related to Drosophila Distal-less (Dll) have been isolated from a wide variety of organisms and have been shown to function as developmental regulators. While in Drosophila only one Dll gene has been described so far, in Vertebrates many components of the Dlx multigenic family have been characterized. This suggests that,(More)
In the marine mollusk Aplysia limacina, a substantial amount of endogenous D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) was found following its synthesis from L-aspartate by an aspartate racemase. Concentrations of D-Asp between 3.9 and 4.6 micromol/g tissue were found in the cerebral, abdominal, buccal, pleural, and pedal ganglia. In non nervous tissues, D-Asp occurred at a(More)
Hox genes play a fundamental role in the establishment of chordate body plan, especially in the anteroposterior patterning of the nervous system. Particularly interesting are the anterior groups of Hox genes (Hox1-Hox4) since their expression is coupled to the control of regional identity in the anterior regions of the nervous system, where the highest(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)