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Dev Genes Evol. 2008 Apr;218(3-4):141-52. doi: 10.1007/s00427-008-0212-5. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Do teashirt family genes specify trunk identity? Insights from the single tiptop/teashirt homolog of Tribolium castaneum.

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Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


The Drosophila teashirt gene acts in concert with the homeotic selector (Hox) genes to specify trunk (thorax and abdomen) identity. There has been speculation that this trunk-specifying function might be very ancient, dating back to the common ancestor of insects and vertebrates. However, other evidence suggests that the role of teashirt in trunk identity is not well conserved even within the Insecta. To address this issue, we have analyzed the function of Tc-tiotsh, the lone teashirt family member in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. Although Tc-tiotsh is important for aspects of both embryonic and imaginal development including some trunk features, we find no evidence that it acts as a trunk identity gene. We discuss this finding in the context of recent insights into the evolution and function of the Drosophila teashirt family genes.

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