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We report the full-length coding sequence and the expression pattern during neurulation and early organogenesis of ScOtx5, a novel member of the Otx gene family in the dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula. Phylogenetic analyses confirm that ScOtx5 is closely related to the Xenopus XlOtx5/ 5bgenes, and also to the Crx genes characterized in mammals and zebrafish. This supports the hypothesis that these genes define a third gnathostome Otx orthology class. During neurulation, ScOtx5 transcripts are detected in the foregut diverticulum and the anterior neuroectoderm. At the onset of organogenesis, ScOtx5 is transcribed over a broad domain spanning the whole prosencephalon and mesencephalon, albeit with a much lower signal intensity than its paralogues Otx1 and Otx2. At later stages, four major expression sites are observed: the developing eye and epiphysis, the olfactory placodes and a broad epidermal domain in the dorsal part of the head. In the embryonic eye, the signal is first detected in the presumptive pigmented retina and slightly later in the adjacent outer layer of the neural retina, fated to photoreceptors. The comparison of this expression pattern with those of osteichthyan Otx genes suggests that a role in the specification of photoreceptors may correspond to a functional specialization of Otx5and Crx genes, fixed early in the gnathostome lineage, prior to the splitting of chondrichthyans and osteichthyans. In contrast, the roles played by ScOtx5 in the retinal pigmented epithelium or in the olfactory placodes may be fulfilled by different combinations of paralogous genes in other gnathostome taxa.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Genes Evol

Publication Date





533 - 544


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Brain, Conserved Sequence, Dogfish, Evolution, Molecular, Eye, Female, Homeodomain Proteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Photoreceptor Cells, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Trans-Activators, Xenopus, Xenopus Proteins