Non-canonical dorsoventral patterning in the moth midge Clogmia albipunctata
© The Author(s) 2017. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Background Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are of central importance for dorsal–ventral (DV) axis specification. They are core components of a signalling cascade that includes the BMP ligand decapentaplegic (DPP) and its antagonist short gastrulation (SOG) in Drosophila melanogaster. These components are very ancient, with orthologs involved in DV patterning in both protostomes and deuterostomes. Despite such strong conservation, recent comparative work in insects has revealed interesting differences in the way the patterning function of the DV system is achieved in different species. Results In this paper, we characterise the expression patterns of the principal components of the BMP DV patterning system, as well as its signalling outputs and downstream targets, in the non-cyclorrhaphan moth midge Clogmia albipunctata (Diptera: Psychodidae). We previously reported ventral expression patterns of dpp in the pole regions of C. albipunctata blastoderm embryos. Strikingly, we also find ventral sog and posteriorly restricted tkv expression, as well as expanded polar activity of pMad. We use our results from gene knock-down by embryonic RNA interference to propose a mechanism of polar morphogen shuttling in C. albipunctata. We compare these results to available data from other species and discuss scenarios for the evolution of DV signalling in the holometabolan insects. Conclusions A comparison of gene expression patterns across hemipteran and holometabolan insects reveals that expression of upstream signalling factors in the DV system is very variable, while signalling output is highly conserved. This has two major implications: first, as long as ligand shuttling and other upstream regulatory mechanisms lead to an appropriately localised activation of BMP signalling at the dorsal midline, it is of less importance exactly where the upstream components of the DV system are expressed. This, in turn, explains why the early-acting components of the DV patterning system in insects exhibit extensive amounts of developmental systems drift constrained by highly conserved downstream signalling output.
This work was funded by the MEC-EMBL agreement for the EMBL/CRG Research Unit in Systems Biology, SGR Grant 406, from the Catalan funding agency AGAUR and by grants BFU2009-10184 and BFU2012-33775 from the Spanish Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (MINECO). The Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) acknowledges support from MINECO, “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2013-2017”, SEV-2012-0208.
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Vol. 8, article 20