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Publications (5)12.96 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Muscle-specific miR-1/206 and miR-133 families have been suggested to play fundamental roles in skeletal and cardiac myogenesis in vertebrates. To gain insights into the relationships between the divergence of these miRs and muscular tissue types, we investigated the expression patterns of miR-1 and miR-133 in two ascidian Ciona species and compared their genomic structures with those of other chordates. We found that C. intestinalis and C. savignyi each possess a single copy of the miR-1/miR-133 cluster, which is only 350 nucleotide long. During embryogenesis, Ciona miR-1 and miR-133 are generated as a single continuous primary transcript accumulated in the nuclei of the tail muscle cells, starting at the gastrula stage. In adults, mature miR-133 and miR-1 are differentially expressed in the heart and body wall muscle. Expression of the reporter gene linked to the 850-bp upstream region of the predicted transcription start site confirmed that this region drives the muscle-specific expression of the primary transcript of miR-1/miR-133. In many deuterostome lineages, including that of Ciona, the miR-1/133 cluster is located in the same intron of the mind bomb (mib) gene in reverse orientation. Our results suggest that the origin of genomic organization and muscle-specific regulation of miR-1/133 can be traced back to the ancestor of chordates. Duplication of this miR cluster might have led to the remarkable elaboration in the morphology and function of skeletal muscles in the vertebrate lineage.
    Gene Expression Patterns 11/2012; · 1.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is a neuroendocrine peptide that plays a central role in the vertebrate hypothalamo-pituitary axis. The roles of GnRH in the control of vertebrate reproductive functions have been established, while its non-reproductive function has been suggested but less well understood. Here we show that the tunicate Ciona intestinalis has in its non-reproductive larval stage a prominent GnRH system spanning the entire length of the nervous system. Tunicate GnRH receptors are phylogenetically closest to vertebrate GnRH receptors, yet functional analysis of the receptors revealed that these simple chordates have evolved a unique GnRH system with multiple ligands and receptor heterodimerization enabling complex regulation. One of the gnrh genes is conspicuously expressed in the motor ganglion and nerve cord, which are homologous structures to the hindbrain and spinal cord of vertebrates. Correspondingly, GnRH receptor genes were found to be expressed in the tail muscle and notochord of embryos, both of which are phylotypic axial structures along the nerve cord. Our findings suggest a novel non-reproductive role of GnRH in tunicates. Furthermore, we present evidence that GnRH-producing cells are present in the hindbrain and spinal cord of the medaka, Oryzias latipes, thereby suggesting the deep evolutionary origin of a non-reproductive GnRH system in chordates.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e41955. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Members of the Hedgehog (Hh) family are soluble ligands that orchestrate a wide spectrum of developmental processes ranging from left-right axis determination of the embryo to tissue patterning and organogenesis. Tunicates, including ascidians, are the closest relatives of vertebrates, and elucidation of Hh signaling in ascidians should provide an important clue towards better understanding the role of this pathway in development. In previous studies, expression patterns of genes encoding Hh and its downstream factor Gli have been examined up to the tailbud stage in the ascidian embryo, but their expression in the larva has not been reported. Here we show the spatial expression patterns of hedgehog (Ci-hh1, Ci-hh2), patched (Ci-ptc), smoothened (Ci-smo), and Gli (Ci-Gli) orthologs in larvae of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. The expression patterns of Ci-hh2 and Ci-Gli dramatically change during the period between the late tailbud embryo and the swimming larva. At the larval stage, expression of Ci-Gli was found in a central part of the endoderm and in the visceral ganglion, while Ci-hh2 was expressed in two discrete endodermal regions, anteriorly and posteriorly adjacent to the cells expressing Gli. The expression patterns of these genes suggest that the Hh ligand controls postembryonic development of the endoderm and the central nervous system. Expression of a gene encoding Hh in the anterior and/or pharyngeal endoderm is probably an ancient chordate character; diversification of regulation and targets of the Hh signaling in this region may have played a major role in the evolution of chordate body structures.
    ZOOLOGICAL SCIENCE 02/2010; 27(2):84-90. · 1.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcriptional regulation is the first level of regulation of gene expression and is therefore a major topic in computational biology. Genes with similar expression patterns can be assumed to be co-regulated at the transcriptional level by promoter sequences with a similar structure. Current approaches for modeling shared regulatory features tend to focus mainly on clustering of cis-regulatory sites. Here we introduce a Markov chain-based promoter structure model that uses both shared motifs and shared features from an input set of promoter sequences to predict candidate genes with similar expression. The model uses positional preference, order, and orientation of motifs. The trained model is used to score a genomic set of promoter sequences: high-scoring promoters are assumed to have a structure similar to the input sequences and are thus expected to drive similar expression patterns. We applied our model on two datasets in Caenorhabditis elegans and in Ciona intestinalis. Both computational and experimental verifications indicate that this model is capable of predicting candidate promoters driving similar expression patterns as the input-regulatory sequences. This model can be useful for finding promising candidate genes for wet-lab experiments and for increasing our understanding of transcriptional regulation.
    DNA Research 03/2008; 15(1):3-11. · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We previously identified three genes that encode putative visual cycle proteins that are homologues of retinal G-protein coupled receptor (Ci-opsin3), cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein (Ci-CRALBP) and beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase (Ci-BCO) in the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. Ci-opsin3 and Ci-CRALBP are localized in both ocellus photoreceptor cells and surrounding non-photoreceptor cells in the brain vesicle of the larva. In the present study, we investigated the possible role and evolutionary origin of the BCO/RPE65 family in the visual cycle by analyzing Ci-BCO localization by immunohistochemistry and by identifying a novel gene that encodes a homologue of retinal pigment epithelium-specific 65 kDa protein (Ci-RPE65) in C. intestinalis. In situ hybridization and expressed sequence tag (EST) profiles consistently suggest that Ci-RPE65 is not significantly expressed in the ocellus and brain vesicle of the larva. Ci-RPE65 is expressed in the neural complex, a photoreceptor organ of the adult ascidian, at a level comparable to that of Ci-opsin3 and Ci-CRALBP. Ci-RPE65 is also expressed in various adult tissues, including the gill, body wall and intestine, suggesting that Ci-RPE65 plays a role in addition to that in the visual cycle. In contrast, Ci-BCO is predominantly localized in ocellus photoreceptor cells of the larva. The larval visual cycle seems to use Ci-opsin3 as a photo-isomerase. Our results also suggest that the RPE65-dependent visual cycle is used in the adult photoreceptors of a primitive chordate.
    Photochemistry and Photobiology 01/2006; 82(6):1468-74. · 2.29 Impact Factor