High regulatory gene use in sea urchin embryogenesis: Implications for bilaterian development and evolution

Meredith Howard-Ashby, Stefan C. Materna, Charles Brown, Qiang Tu, Paola Oliveri, R. Andrew Cameron, Eric H. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

41 Scopus citations


A global scan of transcription factor usage in the sea urchin embryo was carried out in the context of the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome sequencing project, and results from six individual studies are here considered. Transcript prevalence data were obtained for over 280 regulatory genes encoding sequence-specific transcription factors of every known family, but excluding genes encoding zinc finger proteins. This is a statistically inclusive proxy for the total "regulome" of the sea urchin genome. Close to 80% of the regulome is expressed at significant levels by the late gastrula stage. Most regulatory genes must be used repeatedly for different functions as development progresses. An evolutionary implication is that animal complexity at the stage when the regulome first evolved was far simpler than even the last common bilaterian ancestor, and is thus of deep antiquity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Indirect development
  • Regulome
  • Transcription factor usage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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