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Dev Biol. 2005 Apr 1;280(1):211-24.

Suppressor of Hairless and Presenilin phenotypes imply involvement of canonical Notch-signalling in segmentation of the spider Cupiennius salei.

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Institute for Genetics, Department for Evolutionary Genetics, University of Cologne, Weyertal 121, D-50931 Köln, Germany.


Arthropods, vertebrates, and annelids all have a segmented body. Our recent discovery of involvement of Notch-signalling in spider segmentation revived the discussion on the origin of segmented body plans and suggests the sharing of a common genetic program in a common ancestor. Here, we analysed the spider homologues of the Suppressor of Hairless and Presenilin genes, which encode components of the canonical Notch-pathway, to further explore the role of Notch-signalling in spider segmentation. RNAi silencing of two spider Suppressor of Hairless homologues and the spider Presenilin homologue causes severe segmentation phenotypes. The most prominent defect is the consistent breakdown of segmentation after the formation of three (Suppressor of Hairless) or five (Presenilin) opisthosomal segments. These phenotypes indicate that Notch-signalling during spider segmentation likely involves the canonical pathway via Presenilin and Suppressor of Hairless. Furthermore, it implies that Notch-signalling influences both the formation and patterning of the spider segments: it is required for the specification of the posterior segments and for proper specification of the segment boundaries. We argue that alternative, partly redundant, pathways might act in the formation of the anterior segments that are not active in the posterior segments. This suggests that at least some differences exist in the specification of anterior and posterior segments of the spider, a finding that may be valid for most short germ arthropods. Our data provide additional evidence for the similarities of Notch-signalling in spider segmentation and vertebrate somitogenesis and strengthen our previous notion that the formation of the segments in arthropods and vertebrates might have shared a genetic program in a common ancestor.

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