Pax-6 origins - implications from the structure of two coral Pax genes
Catmull, J × Hayward, DC McIntyre, NE Reece-Hoyes, JS Mastro, R Callaerts, Patrick Ball, EE Miller, DJ #
Development genes and evolution vol:208 issue:6 pages:352-356
Vertebrate Pax-6 and its Drosophila homolog eyeless play central roles in eye specification, although it is not clear if this represents the ancestral role of this gene class. As the most "primitive" animals with true nervous systems, the Cnidaria may be informative in terms of the evolution of the Pax gene family. For this reason we surveyed the Pax gene complement of a representative of the basal cnidarian class (the Anthozoa), the coral Acropora millepora. cDNAs encoding two coral Pax proteins were isolated. Pax-Aam encoded a protein containing only a paired domain, whereas Pax-Cam also contained a homeodomain clearly related to those in the Pax-6 family. The paired domains in both proteins most resembled the vertebrate Pax-2/5/8 class, but shared several distinctive substitutions. As in most Pax-6 homologs and orthologs, an intron was present in the Pax-Cam locus at a position corresponding to residues 46/47 in the homeodomain. We propose a model for evolution of the Pax family, in which the ancestor of all of the vertebrate Pax genes most resembled Pax-6, and arose via fusion of a Pax-Aam-like gene (encoding only a paired domain) with an anteriorly-expressed homeobox gene resembling the paired-like class.