Chordate Hox and ParaHox Gene Clusters Differ Dramatically in Their Repetitive Element Content

Peter W. Osborne, David E. K. Ferrier

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The ParaHox and Hox gene clusters control aspects of animal anterior-posterior development and are related as paralogous evolutionary sisters. Despite this relationship, it is not clear if the clusters operate in similar ways, with similar constraints. To compare clusters, we examined the transposable-element (TE) content of amphioxus and mammalian ParaHox and Hox clusters. Chordate Hox clusters are known to be largely devoid of TEs, possibly due to gene regulation and constraints on clustering in these animals. Here, we describe several novel amphioxus TEs and show that the amphioxus ParaHox cluster is a hotspot for TE insertion. TE contents of mammalian ParaHox loci are at background levels, in stark contrast to chordate Hox clusters. This marks a significant difference between Hox and ParaHox clusters. The presence of so many potentially disruptive elements implies selection constrains these ParaHox clusters as they have not dispersed despite 500 My of evolution for each lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-220
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number2
Early online date5 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • MITE
  • ParaHox
  • repetitive elements
  • Hox
  • amphioxus
  • BLIMP1
  • MICE


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