A lophotrochozoan twist gene is expressed in the ectomesoderm of the gastropod mollusk Patella vulgata. uri icon


  • The twist gene is known to be involved in mesoderm formation in two of the three clades of bilaterally symmetrical animals: viz. deuterostomes (such as vertebrates) and ecdysozoans (such as arthropods and nematodes). There are currently no data on the spatiotemporal expression of this gene in the third clade, the lophotrochozoans (such as mollusks and annelids). To approach the question of mesoderm homology across bilaterians, we decided to analyze orthologs of this gene in the gastropod mollusk Patella vulgata that belongs to the lophotrochozoans. We present here the cloning, characterization, and phylogenetic analysis of a Patella twist ortholog, Pv-twi, and determine the early spatiotemporal expression pattern of this gene. Pv-twi expression was found in the trochophore larva in a subset of the ectomesoderm, one of the two sources of mesoderm in Patella. These data support the idea that twist genes were ancestrally involved in mesoderm differentiation. The absence of Pv-twi in the second mesodermal source, the endomesoderm, suggests that also other genes must be involved in lophotrochozoan mesoderm differentiation. It therefore remains a question if the mesoderm of all bilaterians is homologous.

publication date

  • September 2002