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Journal Article

RTK and TGF-β signaling pathways genes in the sea urchin genome


Poustka,  Albert
Evolution and Development (Albert Poustka), Dept. of Vertebrate Genomics (Head: Hans Lehrach), Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Lapraz, F., Röttinger, E., Duboc, V., Range, R., Duloquin, L., Walton, K., et al. (2006). RTK and TGF-β signaling pathways genes in the sea urchin genome. Developmental Biology, 300(1), 132-152. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.08.048.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-831B-8
The Receptor Tyrosine kinase (RTK) and TGF-β signaling pathways play essential roles during development in many organisms and regulate a plethora of cellular responses. From the genome sequence of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, we have made an inventory of the genes encoding receptor tyrosine kinases and their ligands, and of the genes encoding cytokines of the TGF-β superfamily and their downstream components. The sea urchin genome contains at least 20 genes coding for canonical receptor tyrosine kinases. Seventeen of the nineteen vertebrate RTK families are represented in the sea urchin. Fourteen of these RTK among which ALK, CCK4/PTK7, DDR, EGFR, EPH, LMR, MET/RON, MUSK, RET, ROR, ROS, RYK, TIE and TRK are present as single copy genes while pairs of related genes are present for VEGFR, FGFR and INSR. Similarly, nearly all the subfamilies of TGF-β ligands identified in vertebrates are present in the sea urchin genome including the BMP, ADMP, GDF, Activin, Myostatin, Nodal and Lefty, as well as the TGF-β sensu stricto that had not been characterized in invertebrates so far. Expression analysis indicates that the early expression of nodal, BMP2/4 and lefty is restricted to the oral ectoderm reflecting their role in providing positional information along the oral–aboral axis of the embryo. The coincidence between the emergence of TGF-β-related factors such as Nodal and Lefty and the emergence of the deuterostome lineage strongly suggests that the ancestral function of Nodal could have been related to the secondary opening of the mouth which characterizes this clade, a hypothesis supported by functional data in the extant species. The sea urchin genome contains 6 genes encoding TGF-β receptors and 4 genes encoding prototypical Smad proteins. Furthermore, most of the transcriptional activators and repressors shown to interact with Smads in vertebrates have orthologues in echinoderms. Finally, the sea urchin genome contains an almost complete repertoire of genes encoding extracellular modulators of BMP signaling including Chordin, Noggin, Sclerotin, SFRP, Gremlin, DAN and Twisted gastrulation. Taken together, these findings indicate that the sea urchin complement of genes of the RTK and TGF-β signaling pathways is qualitatively very similar to the repertoire present in vertebrates, and that these genes are part of the common genetool kit for intercellular signaling of deuterostomes.