Structure and expression of three Emx genes in the dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula: functional and evolutionary implications

Dev Biol. 2002 Jul 15;247(2):390-404. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2002.0700.


We report the characterization of three Emx genes in a chondrichthyan, the dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula. Comparisons of these genes with their osteichthyan counterparts indicate that the gnathostome Emx genes belong to three distinct orthology classes, each containing one of the dogfish genes and either the tetrapod Emx1 genes (Emx1 class), the osteichthyan Emx2 genes (Emx2 class) or the zebrafish Emx1 gene (Emx3 class). While the three classes could be retrieved from the pufferfish genome data, no indication of an Emx3-related gene in tetrapods could be found in the databases, suggesting that this class may have been lost in this taxon. Expression pattern comparisons of the three dogfish Emx genes and their osteichthyan counterparts indicate that not only telencephalic, but also diencephalic Emx expression territories are highly conserved among gnathostomes. In particular, all gnathostomes share an early, dynamic phase of Emx expression, spanning presumptive dorsal diencephalic territories, which involves Emx3 in the dogfish, but another orthology class, Emx2, in tetrapods. In addition, the dogfish Emx2 gene shows a highly specific expression domain in the cephalic paraxial mesoderm from the end of gastrulation and throughout neurulation, which suggests a role in the segmentation of the cephalic mesoderm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Dogfish
  • Exons
  • Homeodomain Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Introns
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • empty spiracles homeobox proteins