Expression of meis and hoxa11 in dipnoan and teleost fins provides new insights into the evolution of vertebrate appendages

Fernanda Langellotto, Maria Fiorentino, Elena Felice, Luigi Caputi, Valeria Nittoli, Jean M. P. Joss, Paolo Sordino*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    128 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: The concerted activity of Meis and Hoxa11 transcription factors is essential for the subdivision of tetrapod limbs into proximo-distal (PD) domains; however, little is know about the evolution of this patterning mechanism. Here, we aim to study the expression of meis and hoxa11 orthologues in the median and paired rayed fins of zebrafish and in the lobed fins of the Australian lungfish. Results: First, a late phase of expression of meis1.1 and hoxa11b in zebrafish dorsal and anal fins relates with segmentation of endochondral elements in proximal and distal radials. Second, our zebrafish in situ hybridization results reveal spatial and temporal changes between pectoral and pelvic fins. Third, in situ analysis of meis1, meis3 and hoxa11 genes in Neoceratodus pectoral fins identifies decoupled domains of expression along the PD axis. Conclusions: Our data raise the possibility that the origin of stylopod and zeugopod lies much deeper in gnathostome evolution and that variation in meis and hoxa11 expression has played a substantial role in the transformation of appendage anatomy. Moreover, these observations provide evidence that the Meis/Hoxa11 profile considered a hallmark of stylopod/zeugopod patterning is present in Neoceratodus.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number11
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • fin-to-limb transition
    • Neoceratodus
    • zebrafish
    • Hoxa11
    • Meis
    • gene expression


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