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Afuni, a novel transforming growth factor-β gene is involved in arm regeneration by the brittle star Amphiura filiformis


The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are a family of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) superfamily that perform multiple roles during vertebrate and invertebrate development. Here, we report the molecular cloning of a novel BMP from regenerating arms of the ophiuroid Amphiura filiformis. The theoretically translated amino acid sequence of this novel BMP has high similarity to that of the sea urchin BMP univin. This novel BMP has been named afuni. Whole-mount in situ hybridisation implicates afuni in arm regeneration. Expression occurs in distinct proximal and distal regions of late regenerates (3- and 5-week postablation). These sites are at different stages of regeneration, suggesting multiple roles for this gene in adult arm development. Cellular expression of this gene occurs in migratory cells within the radial water canal (RWC) of regenerating and nonregenerating arms. These migrating coelomocytes suggest a key role for the coelomic RWC as a source of the cellular material for use in arm regeneration by A. filiformis.

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We thank the Kristineberg Marine Research Station’s staff for support during this work. R.B. and M.C.T. also acknowledge the support of the EU Transnational Access to Infrastructures Programme and V.R. (Sweden) for work conducted at Kristineberg. We would also like to thank Patricia Goggin at the Electron Microscopy Unit, Royal Holloway, University of London, for assistance with preparation of resin sections. R.B. was funded by a NERC studentship.

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Correspondence to P. W. Beesley.

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Communicated by N. Satoh

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Bannister, R., McGonnell, I.M., Graham, A. et al. Afuni, a novel transforming growth factor-β gene is involved in arm regeneration by the brittle star Amphiura filiformis. Dev Genes Evol 215, 393–401 (2005).

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  • Amphiura filiformis
  • Bone morphogenetic protein
  • Coelomic canal
  • Regeneration