Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2013;4:1714. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2711.

Cryptic variation in vulva development by cis-regulatory evolution of a HAIRY-binding site.

Author information

Department for Evolutionary Biology, Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany.


Robustness to mutations is a general principle of biological systems that allows for the accumulation of cryptic variation. However, little is known about robustness and cryptic variation in core developmental pathways. Here we show through gonad-ablation screens in natural isolates of Pristionchus pacificus cryptic variation in nematode vulva development. This variation is mainly caused by cis-regulatory evolution in the conserved Notch ligand apx-1/Delta and involves binding sites for the transcription factor HAIRY. In some isolates, including a Bolivian strain, absence of a HAIRY-binding site results in Ppa-apx-1 expression in the vulva precursor cell P6.p and causes gonad-independent vulva differentiation. In contrast, a Californian strain that gained a HAIRY-binding site lacks Ppa-apx-1 vulval expression and shows gonad-dependence of vulva development. Addition of this HAIRY-binding site to the Bolivian Ppa-apx-1 promoter eliminates expression in the vulva. Our findings indicate significant cis-regulatory evolution in a core developmental pathway leading to intraspecific cryptic variation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center