Engrailed is expressed in larval development and in the radial nervous system of Patiriella sea stars
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Byrne, M., Cisternas, P., Elia, L. et al. Dev Genes Evol (2005) 215: 608. doi:10.1007/s00427-005-0018-7
- 169 Downloads
We documented expression of the pan-metazoan neurogenic gene engrailed in larval and juvenile Patiriella sea stars to determine if this gene patterns bilateral and radial echinoderm nervous systems. Engrailed homologues, containing conserved En protein domains, were cloned from the radial nerve cord. During development, engrailed was expressed in ectodermal (nervous system) and mesodermal (coeloms) derivatives. In larvae, engrailed was expressed in cells lining the larval and future adult coeloms. Engrailed was not expressed in the larval nervous system. As adult-specific developmental programs were switched on during metamorphosis, engrailed was expressed in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system (PNS), paralleling the pattern of neuropeptide immunolocalisation. Engrailed was first seen in the developing nerve ring and appeared to be up-regulated as the nervous system developed. Expression of engrailed in the nerve plexus of the tube feet, the lobes of the hydrocoel along the adult arm axis, is similar to the reiterated pattern of expression seen in other animals. Engrailed expression in developing nervous tissue reflects its conserved role in neurogenesis, but its broad expression in the adult nervous system of Patiriella differs from the localised expression seen in other bilaterians. The role of engrailed in patterning repeated PNS structures indicates that it may be important in patterning the fivefold organisation of the ambulacrae, a defining feature of the Echinodermata.