Bioinformatic exploration of Hoxa2, Hoxb2, Hoxa11, and Hoxd11 in vertebrate evolution
The purpose of this bioinformatic project was to develop an understanding of how gene evolution shaped morphological complexity within the vertebrate lineage by evaluating protein sequence variations within hoxa2, hoxb2, hoxa11, and hoxd11 genes from six selected organisms. Hox genes are responsible for patterning the embryo during development and influence cellular differentiation and organization. In order for organisms to develop vertebrae and other bones, the genetic code to produce skeletal tissue had to become evolutionarily available. The hox gene and subsequent protein data were collected from the NCBI database, analyzed using the NCBI Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST), ClustalΩ, and MEGA 6. Phylogenetic trees were constructed through MEGA version 6 and subsequently used to evaluate hox gene conservation and degeneration among the selected species.