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Evol Dev. 2005 Nov-Dec;7(6):618-28.

Pair rule gene orthologs in spider segmentation.

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  • 1Department for Evolutionary Genetics, Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Str. 47, D-50674 Köln, Germany.


The activation of pair rule genes is the first indication of the metameric organization of the Drosophila embryo and thus forms a key step in the segmentation process. There are two classes of pair rule genes in Drosophila: the primary pair rule genes that are directly activated by the maternal and gap genes and the secondary pair rule genes that rely on input from the primary pair rule genes. Here we analyze orthologs of Drosophila primary and secondary pair rule orthologs in the spider Cupiennius salei. The expression patterns of the spider pair rule gene orthologs can be subdivided in three groups: even-skipped and runt-1 expression is in stripes that start at the posterior end of the growth zone and their expression ends before the stripes reach the anterior end of the growth zone, while hairy and pairberry-3 stripes also start at the posterior end, but do not cease in the anterior growth zone. Stripes of odd-paired, odd-skipped-related-1, and sloppy paired are only found in the anterior portion of the growth zone. The various genes thus seem to be active during different phases of segment specification. It is notable that the spider orthologs of the Drosophila primary pair rule genes are active more posterior in the growth zone and thus during earlier phases of segment specification than most orthologs of Drosophila secondary pair rule genes, indicating that parts of the hierarchy might be conserved between flies and spiders. The spider ortholog of the Drosophila pair rule gene fushi tarazu is not expressed in the growth zone, but is expressed in a Hox-like fashion. The segmentation function of fushi tarazu thus appears to be a newly acquired role of the gene in the lineage of the mandibulate arthropods.

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