Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Evolution of Hox Genes in Spiralia

Version 1 : Received: 25 November 2021 / Approved: 26 November 2021 / Online: 26 November 2021 (13:28:22 CET)

How to cite: Hejnol, A.; Gasiorowski, L.; Martin-Duran, J. The Evolution of Hox Genes in Spiralia. Preprints 2021, 2021110509. Hejnol, A.; Gasiorowski, L.; Martin-Duran, J. The Evolution of Hox Genes in Spiralia. Preprints 2021, 2021110509.


The decoding of genomes of a larger number of animal species have provided further insights into the genomic Hox gene organization and with this indicated the evolutionary changes during the radiation of several clades. The expansion of gene expression studies during development and life history stages of more species, complete the picture of the relationship between cluster organisation and temporal and spatial correlation of the Hox activity. Now these results open the opportunity to look deeper into the regulatory pathways that form these patterns and identify what exact changes caused the evolution of the application of this iconical gene set for the evolution of new larval forms and new structures. Here we review recent progress of Hox gene related research in the large clade Spiralia, that comprises Annelida, Mollusca, Lophophorata, Platyhelminthes, Nemertea and others. Albeit their relationship to each other is not resolved yet, there are emerging patterns that indicate that Hox genes are mainly used for patterning late, adult body parts and that Hox genes are often not expressed on the larval stages. Hox genes seem also often recruited for the formation of morphological novelties. Together with the emerging genomic information Hox genes show a much more dynamic evolutionary history than previously assumed.


hox genes; gene cluster; larva; evolutionary novelties; Spiralia; Lophotrochozoa; Annelida; Rotifera


Biology and Life Sciences, Cell and Developmental Biology

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