Transcriptomic analysis of Nodal – and BMP- associated genes during development to the juvenile seastar in Parvulastra exigua (Asterinidae)
The molecular mechanisms underlying development of the pentameral body of adult echinoderms are poorly understood but are important to solve with respect to evolution of a unique body plan that contrasts with the bilateral body plan of other deuterostomes. As Nodal and BMP2/4 signalling is involved in axis formation in larvae and development of the echinoderm body plan, we used the developmental transcriptome generated for the asterinid seastar Parvulastra exigua to investigate the temporal expression patterns of Nodal and BMP2/4 genes from the embryo and across metamorphosis to the juvenile. For echinoderms, the Asteroidea represents the basal-type body architecture with a distinct (separated) ray structure. Parvulastra exigua has lecithotrophic development forming the juvenile soon after gastrulation providing ready access to the developing adult stage. We identified 39 genes associated with the Nodal and BMP2/4 network in the P. exigua developmental transcriptome. Clustering analysis of these genes resulted in 6 clusters with similar temporal expression patterns across development. A co-expression analysis revealed genes that have similar expression profiles as Nodal and BMP2/4. These results indicated genes that may have a regulatory relationship in patterning morphogenesis of the juvenile seastar. Developmental RNA-seq analyses of Parvulastra exigua show changes in Nodal and BMP2/4 signalling genes across the metamorphic transition. We provide the foundation for detailed analyses of this cascade in the evolution of the unusual pentameral echinoderm body and its deuterostome affinities.
Byrne, M; Koop, D; Strbenac, D; Cisternas, P; Yang, JYH; Davidson, PL; Wray, G
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