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Dev Genes Evol. 2005 Jan;215(1):13-31. Epub 2004 Nov 30.

Tribolium castaneum twist: gastrulation and mesoderm formation in a short-germ beetle.

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Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Nonnenwald 2, 82377 Penzberg, Germany.


Mesoderm formation has been extensively analyzed in the long-germ insect Drosophila melanogaster. In Drosophila, both the invagination and specification of the mesoderm is controlled by twist. Here we present a detailed description of mesoderm formation and twist regulation for the short-germ beetle Tribolium castaneum. In contrast to Drosophila, (1) the presumptive mesodermal cells of Tribolium are part of a mitotic domain and divide prior to ventral furrow formation, (2) ventral furrow formation progresses from posterior to anterior, (3) the number of cell layers within the furrow changes from multilayered in caudal to single layered in cephalic regions, and (4) there is a continuous production of mesodermal cells after gastrulation as new segments arise from the posterior growth zone. Tribolium twist (Tc-twist) is initially expressed in all presumptive mesodermal cells; however, after invagination, expression is maintained only in particular locations, which include the anterior compartments of the cephalic segments and a patch of cells at the posterior rim of the growth zone. The growth zone is multilayered with its inner cell layer being continuous with the mesoderm of the newly forming segments where twist expression is re-initiated anterior to the emerging engrailed stripes. A genomic region of Tc-twist was identified which drives ventral expression of a reporter construct in Drosophila. The expression of this Tc-twist construct in the background of Drosophila maternal mutations suggests that the dorsoventral system regulates Tc-twist, but that differences exist in regulation of the Dm-twist and Tc-twist genes by the terminal system.

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