The gene family encoding RNA-binding proteins includes important regulators involved in the neurogenesis in both protostomes and deuterostomes. We isolated cDNAs of the ascidian homolog of one of the RNA-binding proteins, MUSASHI, from Halocynthia roretzi and Ciona intestinalis. The predicted amino acid sequences contained two RNA-recognition and RNA-binding motifs in the N-terminus and an ascidian-specific YG-rich domain in the C-terminus. Maternal transcripts of musashi were ubiquitous in early cleavage-stage embryos. Ascidian musashi had three domains of zygotic expression: the brain, nerve cord, and mesenchyma. The temporal order of the onset in these domains was highly divergent between the two species of ascidian examined.
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