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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Apr 25;97(9):4515-9.

Expression patterns of hairy, even-skipped, and runt in the spider Cupiennius salei imply that these genes were segmentation genes in a basal arthropod.

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  • 1Department of Evolution Genetics, Institut für Genetik, Universität zu Köln, Weyertal 121, D-50931 Cologne, Germany.


There is an ongoing discussion on whether segmentation in different phyla has a common origin sharing a common genetic program. However, before comparing segmentation between phyla, it is necessary to identify the ancestral condition within each phylum. Even within the arthropods it is not clear which parts of the genetic network leading to segmentation are conserved in all groups. In this paper, we analyze the expression of three segmentation genes of the pair-rule class in the spider Cupiennius salei. Spiders are representatives of the Chelicerata, a monophyletic basic arthropod group. We find that in spider embryos, the orthologues for the Drosophila primary pair-rule genes hairy, even-skipped, and runt are expressed in stripes in the growth zone, where the segments are forming, suggesting a role for these genes in chelicerate segmentation. These data imply that the involvement of hairy, even-skipped, and runt in arthropod segmentation is an ancestral character for arthropods and is not restricted to a particular group of insects.

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