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Development. 2005 May;132(9):2081-92. Epub 2005 Mar 23.

even-skipped is not a pair-rule gene but has segmental and gap-like functions in Oncopeltus fasciatus, an intermediate germband insect.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, 1001 East Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


The pair-rule gene even-skipped is required for the initiation of metameric pattern in Drosophila. But Drosophila segmentation is evolutionarily derived and is not representative of most insects. Therefore, in order to shed light on the evolution of insect segmentation, homologs of the pair-rule gene even-skipped have been studied in several insect taxa. However, most of these studies have reported the expression eve but not its function. We report the isolation, expression and function of the homolog of Drosophila even-skipped from the intermediate germband insect Oncopeltus fasciatus. We find that in Oncopeltus, even-skipped striped expression initiates in a segmental and not pair-rule pattern. Weak RNAi suppression of Oncopeltus even-skipped shows no apparent pair-rule like phenotype, while stronger RNAi suppression shows deletion of nearly the entire body. These results suggest that in Oncopeltus, even-skipped is not acting as a pair-rule gene. In almost all insects, prior to its striped expression, even-skipped is expressed in a conserved broad gap-like domain but its function has been largely ignored. We find that this early broad domain is required for activation of the gap genes hunchback and Krüppel. Given the large RNAi deletion phenotype and its regulation of hunchback and Krüppel, even-skipped seems to act as an über-gap gene in Oncopeltus, indicating that it may have both upstream and downstream roles in segmentation.

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