Hox Genes and the Evolution of Vertebrate Axial Morphology Experiment (1995)
In 1995, researchers Ann Burke, Craig Nelson, Bruce Morgan, and Cliff Tabin in the US studied the genes that regulate the construction of vertebra in developing chick and mouse embryos, they showed similar patterns of gene regulation across both species, and they concluded that those patterns were inherited from an ancestor common to all vertebrate animals. The group analyzed the head-to-tail (anterior-posterior) axial development of vertebrates, as the anterior-posterior axis showed variation between species over the course of evolutionary time. Along those axes, they showed where Hox genes produced RNAs. Hox genes have the homeobox, a portion of DNA contributes to the generation of the body plans of animals, plants, and fungi. In the 1995 study, the researchers compared the expression patterns of Hox genes across the chick and mouse embryos, showing where the patterns were similar and where they differed. Based on those comparisons, they argued that Hox genes were present in the ancestors of tetrapods and fishes, and that Hox genes function in the segmentation of the anterior-posterior vertebrate axis in both chick and mouse embryos.