Tissue- and stage-specific expression of a fatty acid binding protein-like gene from amphioxus Branchiostoma belcheri
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A cDNA clone encoding an amphioxus fatty acid binding protein-like (AmphiFABPL) protein was isolated from a gut cDNA library of Branchiostoma belcheri. It contained a 423 bp open reading frame corresponding to a deduced protein of 140 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of approximately 15.9 kDa. Phylogenetic analysis showed that AmphiFABPL fell outside the vertebrate clade of fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs), being positioned at the base of the chordate lineage, and was almost equally homologous to various vertebrate FABPs, suggesting that it may be the archetype of vertebrate FABPs. Both northern blotting and in situ hybridization analyses demonstrated that AmphiFABPL was expressed in the hepatic caecum and hind-gut, and although at a much lower level, it was also present in the endostyle, ovary and testis. In addition, whole-mount in situ hybridization revealed that AmphiFABPL was initially expressed in the posterior two thirds of the primitive gut, including the mid-gut where the hepatic caecum will form later, in 2-day larvae. The expression pattern is closely similar to that of the L-FABP and I-FABP genes in vertebrates, supporting the hypothesis that the hepatic caecum in the amphioxus is homologous to the vertebrate liver.
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