A segmentation clock operating in blastoderm and germband stages of Tribolium development.


In Drosophila, all segments form in the blastoderm where morphogen gradients spanning the entire anterior-posterior axis of the embryo provide positional information. However, in the beetle Tribolium castaneum and most other arthropods, a number of anterior segments form in the blastoderm, and the remaining segments form sequentially from a posterior growth zone during germband elongation. Recently, the cyclic nature of the pair-rule gene Tc-odd-skipped was demonstrated in the growth zone of Tribolium, indicating that a vertebrate-like segmentation clock is employed in the germband stage of its development. This suggests that two mechanisms might function in the same organism: a Drosophila-like mechanism in the blastoderm, and a vertebrate-like mechanism in the germband. Here, we show that segmentation at both blastoderm and germband stages of Tribolium is based on a segmentation clock. Specifically, we show that the Tribolium primary pair-rule gene, Tc-even-skipped (Tc-eve), is expressed in waves propagating from the posterior pole and progressively slowing until they freeze into stripes; such dynamics are a hallmark of clock-based segmentation. Phase shifts between Tc-eve transcripts and protein confirm that these waves are due to expression dynamics. Moreover, by tracking cells in live embryos and by analyzing mitotic profiles, we found that neither cell movement nor oriented cell division could explain the observed wave dynamics of Tc-eve. These results pose intriguing evolutionary questions, as Drosophila and Tribolium segment their blastoderms using the same genes but different mechanisms.

DOI: 10.1242/dev.085126
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@article{ElSherif2012ASC, title={A segmentation clock operating in blastoderm and germband stages of Tribolium development.}, author={Ezzat El-Sherif and Michalis Averof and Susan J. Brown}, journal={Development}, year={2012}, volume={139 23}, pages={4341-6} }