Identification and characterization of homeobox transcription factor genes in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, and their expression in embryonic development

Meredith Howard-Ashby, Stefan C. Materna, Charles Brown, Lili Chen, R. Andrew Cameron, Eric H. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Scopus citations


A set of 96 homeobox transcription factors was identified in the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome using permissive blast searches with a large collection of authentic homeodomain sequences from mouse, human and fly. A phylogenetic tree was constructed to compare the sea urchin homeobox gene family to those of vertebrates, with the result that with the only a few exceptions, orthologs of all vertebrate homeodomain genes were uncovered by our search. QPCR time course measurements revealed that 65% of these genes are expressed within the first 48 h of development (late gastrula). For genes displaying sufficiently high levels of transcript during the first 24 h of development (late blastula), whole mount in situ hybridization was carried out up to 48 h to determine spatial patterns of expression. The results demonstrate that homeodomain transcription factors participate in multiple and diverse developmental functions, in that they are used at a range of time points and in every territory of the developing embryo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-89
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Development
  • Homeobox
  • Sea urchin
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this