<p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The Runt DNA binding domain (Runx) defines a metazoan family of sequence-specific transcription factors with essential roles in animal ontogeny and stem cell based development. Depending on <it>cis</it>-regulatory context, Runx proteins mediate either transcriptional activation or repression. In many contexts Runx-mediated repression is carried out by Groucho/TLE, recruited to the transcriptional complex <it>via </it>a C-terminal WRPY sequence motif that is found encoded in all heretofore known Runx genes.</p> <p>Findings</p> <p>Full-length Runx genes were identified in the recently sequenced genomes of phylogenetically diverse metazoans, including placozoans and sponges, the most basally branching members of that clade. No sequences with significant similarity to the Runt domain were found in the genome of the choanoflagellate <it>Monosiga brevicollis</it>, confirming that Runx is a metazoan apomorphy. A contig assembled from genomic sequences of the haplosclerid demosponge <it>Amphimedon queenslandica </it>was used to construct a model of the single Runx gene from that species, <it>AmqRunx</it>, the veracity of which was confirmed by expressed sequences. The encoded sequence of the Runx protein OscRunx from the homoscleromorph sponge <it>Oscarella carmella </it>was also obtained from assembled ESTs. Remarkably, a syntenic linkage between <it>Runx </it>and <it>Supt3h</it>, previously reported in vertebrates, is conserved in <it>A. queenslandica</it>. Whereas <it>OscRunx </it>encodes a C-terminal Groucho-recruitment motif, <it>AmqRunx </it>does not, although a <it>Groucho </it>homologue is found in the <it>A. queenslandica </it>genome.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that sponges are paraphyletic, and suggest that Runx-WRPY mediated recruitment of Groucho to <it>cis</it>-regulatory sequences originated in the ancestors of eumetazoans following their divergence from demosponges.</p
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.