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Development. 2005 Dec;132(24):5353-63. Epub 2005 Nov 9.

Breakdown of abdominal patterning in the Tribolium Kruppel mutant jaws.

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Institute for Biology, Department Developmental Biology, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen, Staudtstrasse 5, 91058 Erlangen, Germany.


During Drosophila segmentation, gap genes function as short-range gradients that determine the boundaries of pair-rule stripes. A classical example is Drosophila Krüppel (Dm'Kr) which is expressed in the middle of the syncytial blastoderm embryo. Patterning defects in Dm'Kr mutants are centred symmetrically around its bell-shaped expression profile. We have analysed the role of Krüppel in the short-germ beetle Tribolium castaneum where the pair-rule stripes corresponding to the 10 abdominal segments arise during growth stages subsequent to the blastoderm. We show that the previously described mutation jaws is an amorphic Tc'Kr allele. Pair-rule gene expression in the blastoderm is affected neither in the amorphic mutant nor in Tc'Kr RNAi embryos. Only during subsequent growth of the germ band does pair-rule patterning become disrupted. However, only segments arising posterior to the Tc'Kr expression domain are affected, i.e. the deletion profile is asymmetric relative to the expression domain. Moreover, stripe formation does not recover in posterior abdominal segments, i.e. the Tc'Kr(jaws) phenotype does not constitute a gap in segment formation but results from a breakdown of segmentation past the 5th eve stripe. Alteration of pair-rule gene expression in Tc'Kr(jaws) mutants does not suggest a direct role of Tc'Kr in defining specific stripe boundaries as in Drosophila. Together, these findings show that the segmentation function of Krüppel in this short-germ insect is fundamentally different from its role in the long-germ embryo of Drosophila. The role of Tc'Kr in Hox gene regulation, however, is in better accordance to the Drosophila paradigm.

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