Essential roles for lines in mediating leg and antennal proximodistal patterning and generating a stable Notch signaling interface at segment borders.
ABSTRACT: The Drosophila leg imaginal disc provides a paradigm with which to understand the fundamental developmental mechanisms that generate an intricate appendage structure. Leg formation depends on the subdivision of the leg proximodistal (PD) axis into broad domains by the leg gap genes. The leg gap genes act combinatorially to initiate the expression of the Notch ligands Delta (Dl) and Serrate (Ser) in a segmental pattern. Dl and Ser induce the expression of a set of transcriptional regulators along the segment border, which mediate leg segment growth and joint morphogenesis. Here we show that Lines accumulates in nuclei in the presumptive tarsus and the inter-joints of proximal leg segments and governs the formation of these structures by destabilizing the nuclear protein Bowl. Across the presumptive tarsus, lines modulates the opposing expression landscapes of the leg gap gene dachshund (dac) and the tarsal PD genes, bric-a-brac 2 (bab), apterous (ap) and BarH1 (Bar). In this manner, lines inhibits proximal tarsal fates and promotes medial and distal tarsal fates. Across proximal leg segments, lines antagonizes bowl to promote Dl expression by relief-of-repression. In turn, Dl signals asymmetrically to stabilize Bowl in adjacent distal cells. Bowl, then, acts cell-autonomously, together with one or more redundant factors, to repress Dl expression. Together, lines and bowl act as a binary switch to generate a stable Notch signaling interface between Dl-expressing cells and adjacent distal cell. lines plays analogous roles in developing antennae, which are serially homologous to legs, suggesting evolutionarily conserved roles for lines in ventral appendage formation.
Project description:Serial homologs are similar structures that develop at different positions within a body plan. These structures share some, but not all, aspects of developmental patterning, and their evolution is thought to be constrained by shared, pleiotropic gene functions. Here we describe the functions of 17 developmental genes during metamorphic development of the legs in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. This study provides informative comparisons between appendage development in Drosophila melanogaster and T. castaneum, between embryonic and adult development in T. castaneum, and between the development of serially homologous appendages. The leg gap genes Distal-less and dachshund are conserved in function. Notch signaling, the zinc-finger transcription factors related to odd-skipped, and bric-à-brac have conserved functions in promoting joint development. homothorax knockdown alters the identity of proximal leg segments but does not reduce growth. Lim1 is required for intermediate leg development but not distal tarsus and pretarsus development as in D. melanogaster. Development of the tarsus requires decapentaplegic, rotund, spineless, abrupt, and bric-à-brac and the EGF ligand encoded by Keren. Metathoracic legs of T. castaneum have four tarsomeres, whereas other legs have five. Patterns of gene activity in the tarsus suggest that patterning in the middle of the tarsal region, not the proximal- or distal-most areas, is responsible for this difference in segment number. Through comparisons with other recent studies of T. castaneum appendage development, we test hypotheses for the modularity or interdependence of development during evolution of serial homologs.
Project description:We report the molecular characterization of the spineless (ss) gene of Drosophila, and present evidence that it plays a central role in defining the distal regions of both the antenna and leg. ss encodes the closest known homolog of the mammalian dioxin receptor, a transcription factor of the bHLH-PAS family. Loss-of-function alleles of ss cause three major phenotypes: transformation of distal antenna to leg, deletion of distal leg (tarsal) structures, and reduction in size of most bristles. Consistent with these phenotypes, ss is expressed in the distal portion of the antennal imaginal disc, the tarsal region of each leg disc, and in bristle precursor cells. Ectopic expression of ss causes transformation of the maxillary palp and distal leg to distal antenna, and induces formation of an ectopic antenna in the rostral membrane. These effects indicate that ss plays a primary role in specifying distal antennal identity. In the tarsus, ss is expressed only early, and is required for later expression of the tarsal gene bric à brac (bab). Ectopic expression causes the deletion of medial leg structures, suggesting that ss plays an instructive role in the establishment of the tarsal primordium. In both the antenna and leg, ss expression is shown to depend on Distal-less (Dll), a master regulator of ventral appendage formation. The antennal transformation and tarsal deletions caused by ss loss-of-function mutations are probably atavistic, suggesting that ss played a central role in the evolution of distal structures in arthropod limbs.
Project description:Cricket nymphs have the remarkable ability to regenerate a functional leg following amputation, indicating that the regenerating blastemal cells contain information for leg morphology. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie regeneration of leg patterns remain poorly understood. Here, we analyzed phenotypes of the tibia and tarsus (three tarsomeres) obtained by knockdown with regeneration-dependent RNA interference (rdRNAi) against Gryllus dachshund (Gb'dac) and Distal-less (Gb'Dll). We found that depletion of Gb'Dll mRNA results in loss of the tarsal segments, while rdRNAi against Gb'dac shortens the tibia at the two most distal tarsomeres. These results indicate that Gb'Dll expression is indispensable for formation of the tarsus, while Gb'dac expression is necessary for elongation of the tibia and formation of the most proximal tarsomere. These findings demonstrate that mutual transcriptional regulation between the two is indispensable for formation of the tarsomeres, whereas Gb'dac is involved in determination of tibial size through interaction with Gb'ds/Gb'ft.
Project description:The arthropod labrum is an anterior appendage-like structure that forms the dorsal side of the preoral cavity. Conflicting interpretations of fossil, nervous system, and developmental data have led to a proliferation of scenarios for labral evolution. The best supported hypothesis is that the labrum is a novel structure that shares development with appendages as a result of co-option. Here, we use RNA interference in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum to compare metamorphic patterning of the labrum to previously published data on ventral appendage patterning. As expected under the co-option hypothesis, depletion of several genes resulted in similar defects in the labrum and ventral appendages. These include proximal deletions and proximal-to-distal transformations resulting from depletion of the leg gap genes homothorax and extradenticle, large-scale deletions resulting from depletion of the leg gap gene Distal-less, and smaller distal deletions resulting from knockdown of the EGF ligand Keren. However, depletion of dachshund and many of the genes that function downstream of the leg gap genes in the ventral appendages had either subtle or no effects on labral axis patterning. This pattern of partial similarity suggests that upstream genes act through different downstream targets in the labrum. We also discovered that many appendage axis patterning genes have roles in patterning the epipharyngeal sensillum array, suggesting that they have become integrated into a novel regulatory network. These genes include Notch, Delta, and decapentaplegic, and the transcription factors abrupt, bric à brac, homothorax, extradenticle and the paralogs apterous a and apterous b.
Project description:Many spiders and insects can perform rapid jumps from smooth plant surfaces. Here, we investigate how jumping spiders (Pseudeuophrys lanigera and Sitticus pubescens) avoid slipping when accelerating. Both species differed in the relative contribution of leg pairs to the jump. P. lanigera accelerated mainly with their long third legs, whereas their short fourth legs detached earlier. In contrast, S. pubescens accelerated mainly with their long fourth legs, and their short third legs detached earlier. Because of the different orientation (fourth-leg tip pointing backward, third-leg tip pointing forward), the fourth-leg tarsus pushed, whereas the third-leg tarsus pulled. High-speed video recordings showed that pushing and pulling was achieved by different attachment structures. In P. lanigera, third-leg feet made surface contact with setae on their distal or lateral claw tuft, whereas fourth-leg feet engaged the proximal claw tuft, and the distal tuft was raised off the ground. S. pubescens showed the same division of labour between proximal and distal claw tuft for pushing and pulling, but the claw tuft contact lasted longer and was more visible in the fourth than in the third legs. Experimental ablation of claw tufts caused accelerating spiders to slip, confirming that adhesion is essential for jumps from smooth substrates.
Project description:A characteristic of all arthropods is the presence of flexible structures called joints that connect all leg segments. Drosophila legs include two types of joints: the proximal or "true" joints that are motile due to the presence of muscle attachment and the distal joints that lack musculature. These joints are not only morphologically, functionally and evolutionarily different, but also the morphogenetic program that forms them is distinct. Development of both proximal and distal joints requires Notch activity; however, it is still unknown how this pathway can control the development of such homologous although distinct structures. Here we show that the bHLH-PAS transcription factor encoded by the gene dysfusion (dys), is expressed and absolutely required for tarsal joint development while it is dispensable for proximal joints. In the presumptive tarsal joints, Dys regulates the expression of the pro-apoptotic genes reaper and head involution defective and the expression of the RhoGTPases modulators, RhoGEf2 and RhoGap71E, thus directing key morphogenetic events required for tarsal joint development. When ectopically expressed, dys is able to induce some aspects of the morphogenetic program necessary for distal joint development such as fold formation and programmed cell death. This novel Dys function depends on its obligated partner Tango to activate the transcription of target genes. We also identified a dedicated dys cis-regulatory module that regulates dys expression in the tarsal presumptive leg joints through direct Su(H) binding. All these data place dys as a key player downstream of Notch, directing distal versus proximal joint morphogenesis.
Project description:Drosophila leg morphogenesis occurs under the control of a relatively well-known genetic cascade, which mobilizes both cell signaling pathways and tissue-specific transcription factors. However, their cross-regulatory interactions, deployed to refine leg patterning, remain poorly characterized at the gene expression level. Within the genetically interacting landscape that governs limb development, the bric-à-brac2 (bab2) gene is required for distal leg segmentation. We have previously shown that the Distal-less (Dll) homeodomain and Rotund (Rn) zinc-finger activating transcription factors control limb-specific bab2 expression by binding directly a single critical leg/antennal enhancer (LAE) within the bric-à-brac locus. By genetic and molecular analyses, we show here that the EGFR-responsive C15 homeodomain and the Notch-regulated Bowl zinc-finger transcription factors also interact directly with the LAE enhancer as a repressive duo. The appendage patterning gene bab2 is the first identified direct target of the Bowl repressor, an Odd-skipped/Osr family member. Moreover, we show that C15 acts on LAE activity independently of its regular partner, the Aristaless homeoprotein. Instead, we find that C15 interacts physically with the Dll activator through contacts between their homeodomain and binds competitively with Dll to adjacent cognate sites on LAE, adding potential new layers of regulation by C15. Lastly, we show that C15 and Bowl activities regulate also rn expression. Our findings shed light on how the concerted action of two transcriptional repressors, in response to cell signaling inputs, shapes and refines gene expression along the limb proximo-distal axis in a timely manner.
Project description:It is well known that Diptera and Lepidoptera can recognize tastes through their legs, which allows them to select suitable hosts. In Coleoptera, the largest insect order, however, the role of the legs in taste recognition to aid in host selection is unclear. In the present study, we investigated taste recognition through the legs of Chrysomelidae, Coleoptera. Through morphological observations, we found that all subfamilies of Chrysomelidae exhibit gustatory sensilla in the distal leg segment, i.e., the tarsus. In contrast, we did not find evidence of these sensilla in the species that we examined from four families of Coleoptera. We confirmed that different tastes, i.e., sweet, bitter, and leaf surface wax, were received through the tarsal sensilla of Chrysomelidae by recording the electrophysiological responses of the sensilla. Further, we found that Galerucella grisescens (Chrysomelidae) can respond to different tastes used in the electrophysiological tests using only their tarsi, whereas Henosepilachna vigintioctomaculata (Coccinellidae), lacking tarsal gustatory sensilla, did not exhibit similar responses. Our results suggest that although tarsal taste recognition is not common throughout Coleopteran species, it may be a common feature in Chrysomelidae, and tarsal gustation may play an important role in host selection in this family.
Project description:Joints permit efficient locomotion, especially among animals with a rigid skeleton. Joint morphologies vary in the body of individual animals, and the shapes of homologous joints often differ across species. The diverse locomotive behaviors of animals are based, in part, on the developmental and evolutionary history of joint morphogenesis. We showed previously that strictly coordinated cell-differentiation and cell-movement events within the epidermis sculpt the interlocking ball-and-socket joints in the adult Drosophila tarsus (distal leg). Here, we show that the tarsal joints of various insect species can be classified into three types: ball-and-socket, side-by-side and uniform. The last two probably result from joint formation without the cell-differentiation step, the cell-movement step, or both. Similar morphological variations were observed in Drosophila legs when Notch function was temporarily blocked during joint formation, implying that the independent acquisition of cell differentiation and cell movement underlay the elaboration of tarsal joint morphologies during insect evolution. These results provide a framework for understanding how the seemingly complex morphology of the interlocking joint could have developed during evolution by the addition of simple developmental modules: cell differentiation and cell movement.
Project description:The hypotheses about the origin of the primitive amniotic tarsus are very speculative. Early studies argued that the origin of the astragalus, one of the largest proximal bones in the tarsus of basal amniotes, was produced by either the fusion of two, three, or even four of the original tarsal bones, the intermedium, the tibiale and the proximal centralia (c4 and c3), or that the intermedium alone transforms into the primitive astragalus. More recent studies have shown that the structure of the tarsus in Captorhinus supports the former hypothesis about a fusion of the intermedium, the tibiale, the proximal centrale (c4) and eventually c3, producing a purportedly multipartite structure of the amniotic astragalus, but the issue remained contentious. Very well preserved tarsi of the Early Permian aquatic amniote Mesosaurus tenuidens Gervais, 1864-1865, which represent the most complete ontogenetic succession known for a basal amniote (the other exceptional one is provided by the Late Permian diapsid Hovasaurus boulei Piveteau, 1926), suggest that there is more than one ossification center for the astragalus and that these fuse during late embryonic stages or maybe early after birth. A non-hatched Mesosaurus in an advanced stage of development shows that the tarsus is represented by a single bone, most probably the astragalus, which seems to be formed by the suturing of three bones, here interpreted as being the intermedium, the tibiale, probably already integrated to the c4 in an earlier stage of the development, and the c3. An amniote-like tarsal structure is observed in very basal Carboniferous and Permian tetrapods such as Proterogyrinus, Gephyrostegus, the diadectids Diadectes and Orobates, some microsaurs like Tuditanus and Pantylus and possibly Westlothiana, taxa that were all considered as true amniotes in their original descriptions. Therefore, the structure of the amniotic tarsus, including the configuration of the proximal series formed by the astragalus and the calcaneum, typically a pair of enlarged bones, could have been established well before the first recognized amniote walked on Earth. Accordingly, the tarsus of these taxa does not constitute specialized convergences that appeared in unrelated groups, they might be instead, part of a transformation series that involves taxa closely related to the early amniotes as some hypotheses have suggested.