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Dev Biol. 2006 Feb 15;290(2):337-50. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

Specification of neural precursor identity in the geophilomorph centipede Strigamia maritima.

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Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK.


Despite differences in the formation of neural precursors, all arthropod species analyzed so far generate about 30 single precursors (insects/crustaceans) or precursor groups (chelicerates/myriapods) per hemi-segment. In Drosophila, each precursor has a distinct identity conferred by segment polarity and dorso-ventral patterning genes that subdivide the ventral neuroectoderm into a grid-like structure. Temporal patterning mechanisms generate additional diversity after delamination from the neuroectoderm. Previous work shows that the genetic network involved in recruitment and specification of neural precursors is conserved in arthropods. However, comparative studies on generation of precursor diversity are few and partial. Here, we test whether aspects of the Drosophila model may apply in the geophilomorph centipede Strigamia maritima. We describe precursor formation, based on morphology and on Delta and Notch expression. We then show that in S. maritima, hunchback and Kr├╝ppel are expressed in subsets of neural precursors generating distinct temporal expression domains within the plane of the neuroectoderm. This expression pattern suggests that temporal changes in spatial patterning cues may result in the ordered production of different neural identities. We suggest that temporal patterning mechanisms were present in the last common ancestor of arthropods, although the regulatory interactions of transcription factors might have diverged in the lineage leading to insects.

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