Molecular phylogeny of four homeobox genes from the purple sea star Pisaster ochraceus

Giorgio Matassi, Janice Hitomi Imai, Anna Di Gregorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Homeobox genes cloned from the purple sea star Pisaster ochraceus (Phylum Echinodermata/Class Asteroidea) were used along with related sequences available from members of other representative animal phyla to generate molecular phylogenies for Distal-less/Dlx, Hox5, Hox7, and Hox9/10 homeobox genes. Phylogenetic relationships were inferred based on the predicted 60 amino acid homeodomain, using amino acid (AA) and nucleotide (NT) models as well as the recently developed codon substitution models of sequence evolution. The resulting phylogenetic trees were mostly congruent with the consensus species-tree, grouping these newly identified genes with those isolated from other Asteroidea. This analysis also allowed a preliminary comparison of the performance of codon models with that of NT and AA evolutionary models in the inference of homeobox phylogeny. We found that, overall, the NT models displayed low reliability in recovering major clades at the Superphylum/Phylum level, and that codon models were slightly more dependable than AA models. Remarkably, in the majority of cases, codon substitution models seemed to outperform both AA and NT models at both the Class level and homeobox paralogy-group level of classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopment Genes and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Asteroidea
  • Codon model
  • Distal-less
  • Dlx
  • Echinoderm
  • Gbx
  • Hemichordate
  • Homeobox
  • Hox
  • Phylogeny
  • Pisaster
  • Rx
  • Sea star
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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