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Genetics. 2000 Jun;155(2):721-31.

Analysis of maxillopedia expression pattern and larval cuticular phenotype in wild-type and mutant tribolium.

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  • 1Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, USA.


The Tribolium castaneum homeotic gene maxillopedia (mxp) is the ortholog of Drosophila proboscipedia (pb). Here we describe and classify available mxp alleles. Larvae lacking all mxp function die soon after hatching, exhibiting strong transformations of maxillary and labial palps to legs. Hypomorphic mxp alleles produce less severe transformations to leg. RNA interference with maxillopedia double-stranded RNA results in phenocopies of mxp mutant phenotypes ranging from partial to complete transformations. A number of gain-of-function (GOF) mxp alleles have been isolated based on transformations of adult antennae and/or legs toward palps. Finally, we have characterized the mxp expression pattern in wild-type and mutant embryos. In normal embryos, mxp is expressed in the maxillary and labial segments, whereas ectopic expression is observed in some GOF variants. Although mxp and Pb display very similar expression patterns, pb null embryos develop normally. The mxp mutant larval phenotype in Tribolium is consistent with the hypothesis that an ancestral pb-like gene had an embryonic function that was lost in the lineage leading to Drosophila.

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