Chordata: Phylum in the domain Eukarya, comprised of animals either with fully developed backbones (VERTEBRATES), or those with notochords only during some developmental stage (CHORDATA, NONVERTEBRATE).Chordata, Nonvertebrate: A portion of the animal phylum Chordata comprised of the subphyla CEPHALOCHORDATA; UROCHORDATA, and HYPEROTRETI, but not including the Vertebrata (VERTEBRATES). It includes nonvertebrate animals having a NOTOCHORD during some developmental stage.Urochordata: A subphylum of chordates intermediate between the invertebrates and the true vertebrates. It includes the Ascidians.Phylogeny: The relationships of groups of organisms as reflected by their genetic makeup.Evolution, Molecular: The process of cumulative change at the level of DNA; RNA; and PROTEINS, over successive generations.Molecular Sequence Data: Descriptions of specific amino acid, carbohydrate, or nucleotide sequences which have appeared in the published literature and/or are deposited in and maintained by databanks such as GENBANK, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), National Biomedical Research Foundation (NBRF), or other sequence repositories.Endocrine System: The system of glands that release their secretions (hormones) directly into the circulatory system. In addition to the ENDOCRINE GLANDS, included are the CHROMAFFIN SYSTEM and the NEUROSECRETORY SYSTEMS.Endocrine Glands: Ductless glands that secrete HORMONES directly into the BLOOD CIRCULATION. These hormones influence the METABOLISM and other functions of cells in the body.Endocrine System Diseases: Pathological processes of the ENDOCRINE GLANDS, and diseases resulting from abnormal level of available HORMONES.Endocrine Disruptors: Exogenous agents, synthetic and naturally occurring, which are capable of disrupting the functions of the ENDOCRINE SYSTEM including the maintenance of HOMEOSTASIS and the regulation of developmental processes. Endocrine disruptors are compounds that can mimic HORMONES, or enhance or block the binding of hormones to their receptors, or otherwise lead to activating or inhibiting the endocrine signaling pathways and hormone metabolism.Endocrine Gland Neoplasms: Tumors or cancer of the ENDOCRINE GLANDS.Hormones: Chemical substances having a specific regulatory effect on the activity of a certain organ or organs. The term was originally applied to substances secreted by various ENDOCRINE GLANDS and transported in the bloodstream to the target organs. It is sometimes extended to include those substances that are not produced by the endocrine glands but that have similar effects.Anatomy: A branch of biology dealing with the structure of organisms.Exocrine Glands: Glands of external secretion that release its secretions to the body's cavities, organs, or surface, through a duct.Pituitary Gland, Anterior: The anterior glandular lobe of the pituitary gland, also known as the adenohypophysis. It secretes the ADENOHYPOPHYSEAL HORMONES that regulate vital functions such as GROWTH; METABOLISM; and REPRODUCTION.Books

Characterization of an amphioxus paired box gene, AmphiPax2/5/8: developmental expression patterns in optic support cells, nephridium, thyroid-like structures and pharyngeal gill slits, but not in the midbrain-hindbrain boundary region. (1/285)

On the basis of developmental gene expression, the vertebrate central nervous system comprises: a forebrain plus anterior midbrain, a midbrain-hindbrain boundary region (MHB) having organizer properties, and a rhombospinal domain. The vertebrate MHB is characterized by position, by organizer properties and by being the early site of action of Wnt1 and engrailed genes, and of genes of the Pax2/5/8 subfamily. Wada and others (Wada, H., Saiga, H., Satoh, N. and Holland, P. W. H. (1998) Development 125, 1113-1122) suggested that ascidian tunicates have a vertebrate-like MHB on the basis of ascidian Pax258 expression there. In another invertebrate chordate, amphioxus, comparable gene expression evidence for a vertebrate-like MHB is lacking. We, therefore, isolated and characterized AmphiPax2/5/8, the sole member of this subfamily in amphioxus. AmphiPax2/5/8 is initially expressed well back in the rhombospinal domain and not where a MHB would be expected. In contrast, most of the other expression domains of AmphiPax2/5/8 correspond to expression domains of vertebrate Pax2, Pax5 and Pax8 in structures that are probably homologous - support cells of the eye, nephridium, thyroid-like structures and pharyngeal gill slits; although AmphiPax2/5/8 is not transcribed in any structures that could be interpreted as homologues of vertebrate otic placodes or otic vesicles. In sum, the developmental expression of AmphiPax2/5/8 indicates that the amphioxus central nervous system lacks a MHB resembling the vertebrate isthmic region. Additional gene expression data for the developing ascidian and amphioxus nervous systems would help determine whether a MHB is a basal chordate character secondarily lost in amphioxus. The alternative is that the MHB is a vertebrate innovation.  (+info)

Divergence time estimates for the early history of animal phyla and the origin of plants, animals and fungi. (2/285)

In the past, molecular clocks have been used to estimate divergence times among animal phyla, but those time estimates have varied widely (1200-670 million years ago, Ma). In order to obtain time estimates that are more robust, we have analysed a larger number of genes for divergences among three well-represented animal phyla, and among plants, animals and fungi. The time estimate for the chordate-arthropod divergence, using 50 genes, is 993 +/- 46 Ma. Nematodes were found to have diverged from the lineage leading to arthropods and chordates at 1177 +/- 79 Ma. Phylogenetic analyses also show that a basal position of nematodes has strong support (p > 99%) and is not the result of rate biases. The three-way split (relationships unresolved) of plants, animals and fungi was estimated at 1576 +/- 88 Ma. By inference, the basal animal phyla (Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora) diverged between about 1200-1500 Ma. This suggests that at least six animal phyla originated deep in the Precambrian, more than 400 million years earlier than their first appearance in the fossil record.  (+info)

Animal mitochondrial genomes. (3/285)

Animal mitochondrial DNA is a small, extrachromosomal genome, typically approximately 16 kb in size. With few exceptions, all animal mitochondrial genomes contain the same 37 genes: two for rRNAs, 13 for proteins and 22 for tRNAs. The products of these genes, along with RNAs and proteins imported from the cytoplasm, endow mitochondria with their own systems for DNA replication, transcription, mRNA processing and translation of proteins. The study of these genomes as they function in mitochondrial systems-'mitochondrial genomics'-serves as a model for genome evolution. Furthermore, the comparison of animal mitochondrial gene arrangements has become a very powerful means for inferring ancient evolutionary relationships, since rearrangements appear to be unique, generally rare events that are unlikely to arise independently in separate evolutionary lineages. Complete mitochondrial gene arrangements have been published for 58 chordate species and 29 non-chordate species, and partial arrangements for hundreds of other taxa. This review compares and summarizes these gene arrangements and points out some of the questions that may be addressed by comparing mitochondrial systems.  (+info)

Developmental expression of Pax1/9 genes in urochordate and hemichordate gills: insight into function and evolution of the pharyngeal epithelium. (4/285)

The epithelium of the pharynx contributes to the formation of gills in hemichordates, urochordates, cephalochordates and primitive vertebrates, and is therefore a key structure for understanding developmental mechanisms underlying the establishment of chordate body plans. Pax1- and Pax9-related genes encode transcription factors which are expressed in the pharyngeal region of cephalochordates as well as in the vertebrate pharyngeal pouch epithelium that forms the thymus and parathyroid glands. To explore the molecular basis underlying the occurrence and modifications of the pharyngeal epithelium during evolution, we isolated cDNA clones for Pax1- and Pax9-related genes of urochordates (HrPax1/9 of Halocynthia roretzi and CiPax1/9 of Ciona intestinalis) and a hemichordate (PfPax1/9 of Ptychodera flava) from gill cDNA libraries. Each gene is present as a single copy per haploid genome. All of the cDNAs encode typical paired domains and octapeptides but not a homeodomain, as is also true of other Pax1- and Pax9-related genes. Molecular phylogenetic analysis based on comparison of the paired domain amino-acid sequences suggests that HrPax1/9, CiPax1/9 and PfPax1/9 belong to the Pax1/9 subfamily, and that they are descendants of a single precursor of Pax1/Pax9. Screening of HrPax1/9 cDNA clones yielded six different types of transcripts which were generated by alternative splicing. Northern blot, RT-PCR/Southern and in situ hybridization analyses revealed that HrPax1/9, CiPax1/9 and PfPax1/9 are not expressed during early embryogenesis but are expressed in the epithelia of differentiating gills, suggesting that these genes encode gill-specific transcription factors. The Pax1/9 genes therefore might provide the first developmental genetic corroboration of hypotheses of organ-level homology that unifies hemichordates, urochordates and cephalochordates.  (+info)

Complete sequence, gene arrangement, and genetic code of mitochondrial DNA of the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae (Amphioxus) (5/285)

We have determined the 15,083-nucleotide (nt) sequence of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the lancelet Branchiostoma floridae (Chordata: Cephalochordata). As is typical in metazoans, the mtDNA encodes 13 protein, 2 rRNA, and 22 tRNA genes. The gene arrangement differs from the common vertebrate arrangement by only four tRNA gene positions. Three of these are unique to Branchiostoma, but the fourth is in a position that is primitive for chordates. It shares the genetic code variations found in vertebrate mtDNAs except that AGA = serine, a code variation found in many invertebrate phyla but not in vertebrates (the related codon AGG was not found). Branchiostoma mtDNA lacks a vertebrate-like control region; its largest noncoding region (129 nt) is unremarkable in sequence or base composition, and its location between ND5 and tRNAG differs from that usually found in vertebrates. It also lacks a potential hairpin DNA structure like those found in many (though not in all) vertebrates to serve as the second-strand (i.e., L-strand) origin of replication. Perhaps related to this, the sequence corresponding to the DHU arm of tRNAC cannot form a helical stem, a condition found in a few other vertebrate mtDNAs that also lack a canonical L-strand origin of replication. ATG and GTG codons appear to initiate translation in 11 and 2 of the protein-encoding genes, respectively. Protein genes end with complete (TAA or TAG) or incomplete (T or TA) stop codons; the latter are presumably converted to TAA by post-transcriptional polyadenylation.  (+info)

Pattern of Brachyury gene expression in starfish embryos resembles that of hemichordate embryos but not of sea urchin embryos. (6/285)

Echinoderms, hemichordates and chordates are deuterostomes and share a number of developmental features. The Brachyury gene is responsible for formation of the notochord, the most defining feature of chordates, and thus may be a key to understanding the origin and evolution of the chordates. Previous studies have shown that the ascidian Brachyury (As-T and Ci-Bra) is expressed in the notochord and that a sea urchin Brachyury (HpTa) is expressed in the secondary mesenchyme founder cells. A recent study by [Tagawa et al. (1998)], however, revealed that a hemichordate Brachyury (PfBra) is expressed in a novel pattern in an archenteron invagination region and a stomodaeum invagination region in the gastrula. The present study demonstrated that the expression pattern of Brachyury (ApBra) of starfish embryos resembles that of PfBra in hemichordate embryos but not of HpTa in sea urchin embryos. Namely, ApBra is expressed in an archenteron invagination region and a stomodaeum invagination region.  (+info)

Structure and developmental expression of the ascidian TRP gene: insights into the evolution of pigment cell-specific gene expression. (7/285)

The tyrosinase family in vertebrates consists of three related melanogenic enzymes: tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1), and TRP-2. These proteins control melanin production in pigment cells and play a crucial role in determining vertebrate coloration. We have isolated a gene from the ascidian Halocynthia roretzi which encodes a tyrosinase-related protein (HrTRP) with 45-49% identity with vertebrate TRP-1 and TRP-2. The expression of the HrTRP gene in pigment lineage a8.25 cells starts at the early-mid gastrula stage, which coincides with the stage when these cells are determined as pigment precursor cells; therefore, it provides the earliest pigment lineage-specific marker, which enables us to trace the complete cell lineage leading to two pigment cells in the larval brain. In addition, the expression pattern of the HrTRP gene appears to share similar characteristics with the mouse TRP-2 gene although structurally the HrTRP gene is more closely related to mammalian TRP-1 genes. Based on these observations and on results from molecular phylogenetic and hybridization analyses, we suggest that triplication of the tyrosinase family occurred during the early radiation of chordates. Initially, duplication of an ancestral tyrosinase gene produced a single TRP gene before the urochordate and cephalochordate-vertebrate divergence, and a subsequent duplication of the ancestral TRP gene in the vertebrate lineage gave rise to two TRP genes before the emergence of teleost fishes. Evolution of the melanin synthetic pathway and possible phylogenetic relationships among chordate pigment cells that accommodate the metabolic process are discussed. Dev Dyn 1999;215:225-237.  (+info)

Colinear and segmental expression of amphioxus Hox genes. (8/285)

The cephalochordate amphioxus has a single Hox gene cluster. Here we describe the genomic organization of four adjacent amphioxus genes, AmphiHox-1 to AmphiHox-4, together with analysis of their spatiotemporal expression patterns. We demonstrate that these genes obey temporal colinearity and that three of the genes also obey spatial colinearity in the developing neural tube. AmphiHox-1, AmphiHox-3, and AmphiHox-4 show segmental modulation of their expression levels, a two-segment phasing of spatial colinearity, and, at least for AmphiHox-4, asymmetrical expression. AmphiHox-2 is unlike other amphioxus Hox genes: it does not obey spatial colinearity and it has no positional expression in the neural tube. AmphiHox-2 is expressed in the preoral pit of larvae, from which the homologue of the anterior pituitary develops. We suggest that the ancestral role of chordate Hox genes was primarily in the neural tube and that chordate Hox genes can functionally diverge in a manner analogous to that of Drosophila ftz or zen.  (+info)

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