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Evolution Of Homeotic Gene Regulation And Function In Flies And Butterflies

784 words - 4 pages

Robert Warren, Lisa Nagy, Jane Selegue, Julie Gates, and Sean Carroll produced this experiment that wanted to examine homeotic gene expression in butterflies. The hypothesis they tested was do homeotic genes have driven morphological change or do the homeotic genes provide a pre-existing plan where insects segment diversity evolved. The genes Antp, Scr, Abd-A, and Ubx were isolated from a cDNA library and were used to explore differences in limb and wing numbers between flies and butterflies. Where Ubx and Abd-A are expressed, the limb and wing numbers arose. They started to wonder if the expression of BX-C genes were different in butterflies (P.Coeni) and fruit flies (drosophila). When they did tests, they saw that conservation of BX-C and ANT-C homeotic gene expression are fundamentally similar and don’t explain the differences in appendages in each species. They looked into embryogenesis, and at 20% of the embryogenesis of butterflies, they saw Abd-A protein and RNA are expressed in the anterior and abdominal segments. High levels of Antp expression are seen in the thorax. Past the 20% mark of embryogenesis, the patterns seen of Abd-A, DII, and Antp expression differed extremely - no DII or Antp were expressed in the abdominal proleg.
After seeing this, they tested out if DII is responsible for the down regulation of Ubx/Abd-A. They used double-label experiments using antibodies against butterfly DII and Ubx/Abd-A antibodies and performed them. The activation of DII in the proleg trails repression for Ubx and Abd-A expression, which showed that repression of BX-C gene, is the initial event. When DII expression abdominal segments of drosophila embryo expression is repressed due Ubx and Abd-A, the abdominal limb formation in butterflies is possible due to evolution by shutting off BX-C due to an evolutionary regulatory mechanism to shut of these genes in a specific cell population that permits the expression of DII and Antp.
They concluded that limb formation in the abdomens of fruit flies and butterflies could be due to differences in the number, regulation, or function of their homeotic genes. Evolution at the gene number level was highly unlikely, but the expression of the BX-C gene, DII, in the abdomen could happen by altering the regulation of DII in the abdomen. Butterflies repress BX-C in certain cell...

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