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Recently, it was shown that anterior-posterior patterning genes in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum are expressed sequentially in waves. However, in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, an insect with a derived mode of embryogenesis compared to Tribolium, anterior-posterior patterning genes quickly and simultaneously arise as mature gene expression domains that, afterwards, undergo slight posterior-to-anterior shifts. This raises the question of how a fast and simultaneous mode of patterning, like that of Drosophila, could have evolved from a rather slow sequential mode of patterning, like that of Tribolium. In this paper, we propose a mechanism for this evolutionary transition based on a switch from a uniform to a gradient-mediated initialization of the gap gene cascade by maternal Hb. The model is supported by computational analyses and experiments. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Heike Rudolf, Christine Zellner, Ezzat El-Sherif. Speeding up anterior-posterior patterning of insects by differential initialization of the gap gene cascade. Developmental biology. 2020 Apr 01;460(1):20-31

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PMID: 31075221

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