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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 May 2;103(18):6925-30. Epub 2006 Apr 25.

The pupal specifier broad directs progressive morphogenesis in a direct-developing insect.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biology, University of Washington, Box 351800, Seattle, WA 98195-1800, USA. denizere@u.washington.edu

Abstract

A key regulatory gene in metamorphosing (holometabolous) insect life histories is the transcription factor broad (br), which specifies pupal development. To determine the role of br in a direct-developing (hemimetabolous) insect that lacks a pupal stage, we cloned br from the milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus (Of'br). We find that, unlike metamorphosing insects, in which br expression is restricted to the larval-pupal transition, Of'br mRNA is expressed during embryonic development and is maintained at each nymphal molt but then disappears at the molt to the adult. Induction of a supernumerary nymphal stage with a juvenile hormone (JH) mimic prevented the disappearance of br mRNA. In contrast, induction of a precocious adult molt by application of precocene II to third-stage nymphs caused a loss of br mRNA at the precocious adult molt. Thus, JH is necessary to maintain br expression during the nymphal stages. Injection of Of'br dsRNA into either early third- or fourth-stage nymphs caused a repetition of stage-specific pigmentation patterns and prevented the normal anisometric growth of the wing pads without affecting isometric growth or molting. Therefore, br is necessary for the mutable (heteromorphic) changes that occur during hemimetabolous development. Our results suggest that metamorphosis in insects arose as expression of br, which conveys competence for change, became restricted to one postembryonic instar. After this shift in br expression, the progressive changes that occur within the nymphal series in basal insects became compressed to the one short period of morphogenesis seen in the larva-to-pupa transition of holometabolous insects.

PMID:
16641104
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1458995
Free PMC Article

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