Insect evolution: Redesigning the fruitfly.
Homeotic mutations in Drosophila can result in dramatic phenotypes that suggest the possibility for rapid morphological evolution, but dissection of the genetic pathway downstream of Ultrabithorax is beginning to reveal how wing morphology may have evolved by more gradual transformations. (+info)
Ultrabithorax function in butterfly wings and the evolution of insect wing patterns.
BACKGROUND: . The morphological and functional evolution of appendages has played a critical role in animal evolution, but the developmental genetic mechanisms underlying appendage diversity are not understood. Given that homologous appendage development is controlled by the same Hox gene in different organisms, and that Hox genes are transcription factors, diversity may evolve from changes in the regulation of Hox target genes. Two impediments to understanding the role of Hox genes in morphological evolution have been the limited number of organisms in which Hox gene function can be studied and the paucity of known Hox-regulated target genes. We have therefore analyzed a butterfly homeotic mutant 'Hindsight', in which portions of the ventral hindwing pattern are transformed to ventral forewing identity, and we have compared the regulation of target genes by the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) gene product in Lepidopteran and Dipteran hindwings. RESULTS: . We show that Ubx gene expression is lost from patches of cells in developing Hindsight hindwings, correlating with changes in wing pigmentation, color pattern elements, and scale morphology. We use this mutant to study how regulation of target genes by Ubx protein differs between species. We find that several Ubx-regulated genes in the Drosophila haltere are not repressed by Ubx in butterfly hindwings, but that Distal-less (Dll) expression is regulated by Ubx in a unique manner in butterflies. CONCLUSIONS: . The morphological diversification of insect hindwings has involved the acquisition of different sets of target genes by Ubx in different lineages. Changes in Hox-regulated target gene sets are, in general, likely to underlie the morphological divergence of homologous structures between animals. (+info)
Control of growth and differentiation by Drosophila RasGAP, a homolog of p120 Ras-GTPase-activating protein.
Mammalian Ras GTPase-activating protein (GAP), p120 Ras-GAP, has been implicated as both a downregulator and effector of Ras proteins, but its precise role in Ras-mediated signal transduction pathways is unclear. To begin a genetic analysis of the role of p120 Ras-GAP we identified a homolog from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster through its ability to complement the sterility of a Schizosaccharomyces pombe (fission yeast) gap1 mutant strain. Like its mammalian homolog, Drosophila RasGAP stimulated the intrinsic GTPase activity of normal mammalian H-Ras but not that of the oncogenic Val12 mutant. RasGAP was tyrosine phosphorylated in embryos and its Src homology 2 (SH2) domains could bind in vitro to a small number of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins expressed at various developmental stages. Ectopic expression of RasGAP in the wing imaginal disc reduced the size of the adult wing by up to 45% and suppressed ectopic wing vein formation caused by expression of activated forms of Breathless and Heartless, two Drosophila receptor tyrosine kinases of the fibroblast growth factor receptor family. The in vivo effects of RasGAP overexpression required intact SH2 domains, indicating that intracellular localization of RasGAP through SH2-phosphotyrosine interactions is important for its activity. These results show that RasGAP can function as an inhibitor of signaling pathways mediated by Ras and receptor tyrosine kinases in vivo. Genetic interactions, however, suggested a Ras-independent role for RasGAP in the regulation of growth. The system described here should enable genetic screens to be performed to identify regulators and effectors of p120 Ras-GAP. (+info)
p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase can be involved in transforming growth factor beta superfamily signal transduction in Drosophila wing morphogenesis.
p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) has been extensively studied as a stress-responsive kinase, but its role in development remains unknown. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has two p38 genes, D-p38a and D-p38b. To elucidate the developmental function of the Drosophila p38's, we used various genetic and pharmacological manipulations to interfere with their functions: expression of a dominant-negative form of D-p38b, expression of antisense D-p38b RNA, reduction of the D-p38 gene dosage, and treatment with the p38 inhibitor SB203580. Expression of a dominant-negative D-p38b in the wing imaginal disc caused a decapentaplegic (dpp)-like phenotype and enhanced the phenotype of a dpp mutant. Dpp is a secretory ligand belonging to the transforming growth factor beta superfamily which triggers various morphogenetic processes through interaction with the receptor Thick veins (Tkv). Inhibition of D-p38b function also caused the suppression of the wing phenotype induced by constitutively active Tkv (TkvCA). Mosaic analysis revealed that D-p38b regulates the Tkv-dependent transcription of the optomotor-blind (omb) gene in non-Dpp-producing cells, indicating that the site of D-p38b action is downstream of Tkv. Furthermore, forced expression of TkvCA induced an increase in the phosphorylated active form(s) of D-p38(s). These results demonstrate that p38, in addition to its role as a transducer of emergency stress signaling, may function to modulate Dpp signaling. (+info)
Embryonal feather growth in the chicken.
Prenatal feather growth development in the chicken was studied in 7 body regions in HH stages 27-45, using direct measurements, specific histological and immunohistochemical methods, and scanning electron microscopy. The results from measurements of absolute length values, and, particularly, growth rate development in each HH stage revealed a distinct phase of most intensive growth in HH stage 40-41, which was preceded by feather follicle insertion and accompanied by the occurrence of alpha-keratins in barbule cells. Specific regional evaluation demonstrated that growth in the feather follicles of abdominal skin generally showed the slowest progression from absolute values and that in the feather filaments of the developing wings the most rapid progression occurred during HH stage 40-41 from growth rate values. (+info)
Role of the Bicoid-related homeodomain factor Pitx1 in specifying hindlimb morphogenesis and pituitary development.
Pitx1 is a Bicoid-related homeodomain factor that exhibits preferential expression in the hindlimb, as well as expression in the developing anterior pituitary gland and first branchial arch. Here, we report that Pitx1 gene-deleted mice exhibit striking abnormalities in morphogenesis and growth of the hindlimb, resulting in a limb that exhibits structural changes in tibia and fibula as well as patterning alterations in patella and proximal tarsus, to more closely resemble the corresponding forelimb structures. Deletion of the Pitx1 locus results in decreased distal expression of the hindlimb-specific marker, the T-box factor, Tbx4. On the basis of similar expression patterns in chick, targeted misexpression of chick Pitx1 in the developing wing bud causes the resulting limb to assume altered digit number and morphogenesis, with Tbx4 induction. We hypothesize that Pitx1 serves to critically modulate morphogenesis, growth, and potential patterning of a specific hindlimb region, serving as a component of the morphological and growth distinctions in forelimb and hindlimb identity. Pitx1 gene-deleted mice also exhibit reciprocal abnormalities of two ventral and one dorsal anterior pituitary cell types, presumably on the basis of its synergistic functions with other transcription factors, and defects in the derivatives of the first branchial arch, including cleft palate, suggesting a proliferative defect in these organs analogous to that observed in the hindlimb. (+info)
Telomere loss in somatic cells of Drosophila causes cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.
Checkpoint mechanisms that respond to DNA damage in the mitotic cell cycle are necessary to maintain the fidelity of chromosome transmission. These mechanisms must be able to distinguish the normal telomeres of linear chromosomes from double-strand break damage. However, on several occasions, Drosophila chromosomes that lack their normal telomeric DNA have been recovered, raising the issue of whether Drosophila is able to distinguish telomeric termini from nontelomeric breaks. We used site-specific recombination on a dispensable chromosome to induce the formation of a dicentric chromosome and an acentric, telomere-bearing, chromosome fragment in somatic cells of Drosophila melanogaster. The acentric fragment is lost when cells divide and the dicentric breaks, transmitting a chromosome that has lost a telomere to each daughter cell. In the eye imaginal disc, cells with a newly broken chromosome initially experience mitotic arrest and then undergo apoptosis when cells are induced to divide as the eye differentiates. Therefore, Drosophila cells can detect and respond to a single broken chromosome. It follows that transmissible chromosomes lacking normal telomeric DNA nonetheless must possess functional telomeres. We conclude that Drosophila telomeres can be established and maintained by a mechanism that does not rely on the terminal DNA sequence. (+info)
Transducing the Dpp morphogen gradient in the wing of Drosophila: regulation of Dpp targets by brinker.
Dpp, a TGFbeta, organizes pattern in the Drosophila wing by acting as a graded morphogen, activating different targets above distinct threshold concentrations. Like other TGFbetas, Dpp appears to induce transcription directly via activation of a SMAD, Mad. However, here we demonstrate that Dpp can also control gene expression indirectly by downregulating the expression of the brinker gene, which encodes a putative transcription factor that functions to repress Dpp targets. The medial-to-lateral Dpp gradient along the anterior-posterior axis is complemented by a lateral-to-medial gradient of Brinker, and the presence of these two opposing gradients may function to allow cells to detect small differences in Dpp concentration and respond by activating different target genes. (+info)