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Title: Hox genes from nematodes and RNAi in Burgia malayi
Author: Aziz Aboobaker, A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Hox genes are important: playing a central role in the anteroposterior patterning of bodyplans, showing conservation of relative expression pattern and chromosomal order of paralogous groups between phyla, providing the framework for a molecular map of animal body plan evolution and gross morphology. One organism for which this paradigm appears to be inaccurate is in the nematode C. elegans, which has a depauperate Hox cluster compared to other protostomes. The data presented here reveal that Hox genes within the phylum Nematoda are undergoing rapid and dynamic evolution. Hox genes orthologous to those in other protostome phyla have been identified from species representative of a cross-section of the whole of Nematoda, which are definitively absent from C. elegans. This demonstrates loss of multiple Hox genes within the nematode lineage and challenges previously defined Hox signatures for the two major protostome lineages. In addition we observe alternate cis-splicing of the same N-terminal exon to two different C-terminal homeodomains from different Hox orthology groups within the parasitic nematode B. malayi. These findings demonstrate Hox gene loss as an alternative mechanism for the evolution of body plans to gene duplication and changes in coding and regulatory sequences, within the Nematoda. Furthermore the conservation of the simple nematode body plan has not been accompanied by coordinate Hox gene loss through the whole phylum. One problem when working with parasitic species is the lack of molecular genetic techniques available to study gene function directly. A method for studying gene function using the conserved mechanism of RNAi is described and evaluated. The technique successfully results in loss of specific mRNA transcripts from the target organism B. malayi, and allows the observation of resulting phenotypes in culture. This new approach offers the possibility of investigating the roles of developmental genes such as the Hox gene family, or screening for potential novel drug target candidates and should also be applicable to other parasitic helminths.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available