Marine stickleback fish have pelvic fins with long spines that provide protection from larger predatory fish. Some stickleback fish were trapped in lakes and have adapted to life in a different environment. Many lake populations of stickleback fish lack pelvic fins. Shapiro et al. (2004) (Nature 428:717.723) mapped the mutation associated with the loss of pelvic fins to the Pitx1 locus, a gene expressed in pelvic fins, the pituitary gland, and the jaw. However, the coding sequence of the Pitx1 gene is identical in marine and lake stickleback [Chan et al. (2010). Science 327:5963,302–305]. Moreover, when the Pitx1 coding region is deleted, the fish die with defects in the pituitary gland and the jaw, and they lack pelvic fins. Explain how a mutation near, but outside of, the coding region of Pitx1 may cause a loss of pelvic fins without pleiotropic effects on the pituitary gland and jaw.
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