Analysis of Metamorphosis Gene Ci-meta 2 Expression in Ciona intestinalis
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Metamorphosis in tunicates marks the shift from a motile larva to a sessile adult. The timing of genes expressed during metamorphosis can be crucial to the development of a normal adult phenotype. One particular gene, Ci-meta2 is currently being studied for its role in metamorphosis. This gene contains a TSR region, suggesting a role in neuronal development but little else is known about its functionality. Previous researchers have mapped expression of this gene in the hatching larval stage and the metamorphosing juvenile stage with mixed success. This research attempts to determine the expression pattern of the Ci-meta2 gene in the metamorphosing juvenile and late tailbud embryo stage of Ciona intestinalis. An mRNA probe was constructed with novel primers and expression of Ci-meta2 was visualized through in situ hybridization. This study found staining in the papillae, head, and tail of late tailbud embryos and in the tail and papillae of metamorphosing juveniles. Results of this research suggest that that Ci-meta2 is definitely involved in metamorphosis; specifically, it appears to have a role in siphon formation, an unknown function in the papillae, and tail reabsorption. The next stage of research could involve manipulating expression of Ci-meta2 (temporally or quantitatively) to determine the effects on phenotype. In a broader sense, the findings from tunicate metamorphosis gene are useful to further understanding of vertebrate development research due to the close evolutionary relationship vertebrates and tunicates share.