A major role for zygotic hunchback in patterning the Nasonia embryo.
ABSTRACT Developmental genetic analysis has shown that embryos of the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis depend more on zygotic gene products to direct axial patterning than do Drosophila embryos. In Drosophila, anterior axial patterning is largely established by bicoid, a rapidly evolving maternal-effect gene, working with hunchback, which is expressed both maternally and zygotically. Here, we focus on a comparative analysis of Nasonia hunchback function and expression. We find that a lesion in Nasonia hunchback is responsible for the severe zygotic headless mutant phenotype, in which most head structures and the thorax are deleted, as are the three most posterior abdominal segments. This defines a major role for zygotic Nasonia hunchback in anterior patterning, more extensive than the functions described for hunchback in Drosophila or Tribolium. Despite the major zygotic role of Nasonia hunchback, we find that it is strongly expressed maternally, as well as zygotically. Nasonia Hunchback embryonic expression appears to be generally conserved; however, the mRNA expression differs from that of Drosophila hunchback in the early blastoderm. We also find that the maternal hunchback message decays at an earlier developmental stage in Nasonia than in Drosophila, which could reduce the relative influence of maternal products in Nasonia embryos. Finally, we extend the comparisons of Nasonia and Drosophila hunchback mutant phenotypes, and propose that the more severe Nasonia hunchback mutant phenotype may be a consequence of differences in functionally overlapping regulatory circuitry.
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ABSTRACT: The origin and diversification of evolutionary novelties-lineage-specific traits of new adaptive value-is one of the key issues in evolutionary developmental biology. However, comparative analysis of the genetic and developmental bases of such traits can be difficult when they have no obvious homologue in model organisms. The finding that the evolution of morphological novelties often involves the recruitment of pre-existing genes and/or gene networks offers the potential to overcome this challenge. Knowledge about shared developmental processes obtained from extensive studies in model organisms can then be used to understand the origin and diversification of lineage-specific structures. Here, we illustrate this approach in relation to eyespots on the wings of Bicyclus anynana butterflies. A number of spontaneous mutations isolated in the laboratory affect eyespots, lepidopteran-specific features, and also processes that are shared by most insects. We discuss how eyespot mutants with disturbed embryonic development may help elucidate the genetic pathways involved in eyespot formation, and how venation mutants with altered eyespot patterns might shed light on mechanisms of eyespot development.Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 05/2008; 363(1496):1549-55. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2007.2245 · 6.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Extraembryonic development is familiar to mouse researchers, but the term is largely unknown among insect developmental geneticists. This is not surprising, as the model system Drosophila melanogaster has an extremely reduced extraembryonic component, the amnioserosa. In contrast, most insects retain the ancestral complement of two distinct extraembryonic membranes, amnion and serosa. These membranes are involved in several key morphogenetic events at specific developmental stages. The events of anatrepsis and katatrepsis--collectively referred to as blastokinesis--are specific to hemimetabolous insects. Corresponding events in holometabolous insects are simplified and lack formal names. All insects retain dorsal closure, which has been well studied in Drosophila. This review aims to resurrect both the terminology and awareness of insect extraembryonic development--which were last common currency in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries--as a number of recent studies have identified essential components of these events, through RNA interference of developmental genes and ectopic hormonal treatments. As much remains unknown, this topic offers opportunities for research on tissue specification, the regulation of cell shape changes and tissue interactions during morphogenesis, tracing the origins and final fates of cell and tissue lineages, and ascertaining the membranes' functions between morphogenetic events.Developmental Biology 02/2008; 313(2):471-91. DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.11.004 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Orthologs of the Drosophila gap gene hunchback have been isolated so far only in protostomes. Phylogenetic analysis of recently available genomic data allowed us to confirm that hunchback genes are widely found in protostomes (both lophotrochozoans and ecdysozoans). In contrast, no unequivocal hunchback gene can be found in the genomes of deuterostomes and non-bilaterians. We cloned hunchback in the marine polychaete annelid Platynereis dumerilii and analysed its expression during development. In this species, hunchback displays an expression pattern indicative of a role in mesoderm formation and neurogenesis, and similar to the expression found for hunchback genes in arthropods. These data suggest altogether that these functions are ancestral to protostomes.Development Genes and Evolution 01/2007; 216(12):821-8. DOI:10.1007/s00427-006-0100-9 · 2.18 Impact Factor