Genes with spiralian-specific protein motifs are expressed in spiralian ciliary bands

Longjun Wu, Laurel S. Hiebert, Marleen Klann, Yale Passamaneck, Benjamin R. Bastin, Stephan Q. Schneider, Mark Q. Martindale, Elaine C. Seaver, Svetlana A. Maslakova, J. David Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Spiralia is a large, ancient and diverse clade of animals, with a conserved early developmental program but diverse larval and adult morphologies. One trait shared by many spiralians is the presence of ciliary bands used for locomotion and feeding. To learn more about spiralian-specific traits we have examined the expression of 20 genes with protein motifs that are strongly conserved within the Spiralia, but not detectable outside of it. Here, we show that two of these are specifically expressed in the main ciliary band of the mollusc Tritia (also known as Ilyanassa). Their expression patterns in representative species from five more spiralian phyla—the annelids, nemerteans, phoronids, brachiopods and rotifers—show that at least one of these, lophotrochin, has a conserved and specific role in particular ciliated structures, most consistently in ciliary bands. These results highlight the potential importance of lineage-specific genes or protein motifs for understanding traits shared across ancient lineages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4171
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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