A characteristic cysteine-rich motif, LIM domain, was first detected in three different transcription factors: lin-11, Islet-1 and mec-3. A feature shared by these genes is the presence of two LIM domains linked to a DNA-binding homeodomain (Sánchez-García et al., 1994). LIM homeodomain (LHX) proteins have been reported to be implicated in a variety of developmental processes (Dawid et al., 1998).
Expression patterns of LHX genes have been analysed in a wide variety of organisms and reported to be cell-type specific (Dawid et al., 1998). In vertebrates, they are expressed in organiser equivalent regions at the gastrula stage, suggesting their involvement in mesoderm induction (Taira et al., 1992; Barnes et al., 1994; Toyama et al., 1995). Hrlim, an ascidian Lim3, zygotically expresses in the endoderm lineage before gastrulation, suggesting that it is involved in the endoderm determination (Wada et al., 1995).
Here, cDNA cloning of the Lim1-related homeobox gene (HpLim1) of the sea urchin, Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus, is described together with the spatially as well as temporally regulated expression of HpLim1 during sea urchin development. A possible role of HpLiml in sea urchin development is also discussed based on its spatial pattern of expression and on the result of an over-expression study.