A homologue of the T-box gene, Brachyury, has been isolated from hydra. The gene, termed HyBra1, is expressed in the endoderm and is associated with the formation of the hypostome, the apical part of the head in four different developmental situations. In adults, which are continuously undergoing patterning, HyBra1 is continuously expressed in the hypostome. During budding, hydra's asexual form of reproduction, the gene is expressed in a small area that will eventually form the hypostome of the developing bud before any morphological sign of budding is apparent. The gene is also expressed very early during head regeneration and is confined to the region that will form the hypostome. During embryogenesis, HyBra1 is expressed shortly before hatching in the region that will form the apical end of the animal, the hypostome. The absence of expression at the apical end of decapitated animals of reg-16, a head formation-deficient mutant, provides additional evidence for a role of HyBra1 during head formation. Further, treatments that alter the head activation gradient have no effect on HyBra1 expression indicating the role of the gene is confined to head formation. Transplantation experiments indicate that the expression occurs before head determination has occurred, but expression does not irreversibly commit tissue to forming a head. A comparison of the function of the Brachyury homologues suggests an evolutionary conservation of a molecular mechanism that has been co-opted for a number of developmental processes throughout evolution.

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