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Dec 05, 2018
Vertebrate pelvic reduction is a classic example of repeated evolution. Recurrent loss of pelvic appendages in sticklebacks has previously been linked to natural mutations in a pelvic enhancer that maps upstream of Pitx1. The sequence of this upstream PelA enhancer is not conserved to mammals, so we have surveyed a large region surrounding the mouse Pitx1 gene for other possible hind limb control sequences. Here we identify a new pelvic enhancer, PelB, that maps downstream rather than upstream of Pitx1. PelB drives expression in the posterior portion of the developing hind limb, and deleting the sequence from mice alters the size of several hind limb structures. PelB sequences are broadly conserved from fish to mammals. A wild stickleback population lacking the pelvis has an insertion/deletion mutation that disrupts the structure and function of PelB, suggesting that changes in this ancient enhancer contribute to evolutionary modification of pelvic appendages in nature.

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