, Volume 218, Issue 3-4, pp 169-179
Date: 08 Apr 2008

Expression, function and regulation of Brachyenteron in the short germband insect Tribolium castaneum

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T-domain transcription factors are involved in many different processes during embryogenesis, such as mesoderm, heart or gut development in vertebrates and in invertebrates. In insects, the following five types of T-box genes are known: brachyenteron (byn), optomotor-blind (omb), optomotor-blind-related-gene-1 (org-1), dorsocross (doc) and H15. As all these classes are present in the genome of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the flour beetle Tribolium, the multiplicity of the five types of genes varies from dipterans to the beetle. In higher dipterans, a small cluster of three doc genes (doc1doc3) exists, while the Tribolium genome contains a single Tc-doc gene only. Two H15 genes, Tc-H15a and Tc-H15b, are present in the Tribolium genome compared to a single H15 gene in Drosophila. We have analysed the expression and function of the Tribolium brachyenteron ortholog (Tc-byn). During embryogenesis, Tc-byn is exclusively expressed in the growth zone of the extending germband and later becomes confined to the distal proctodeum and the hindgut, a situation that parallels the expression pattern of byn in Drosophila. Tc-byn-RNAi treated embryos phenocopy Drosophila byn mutants and form no hindgut. In addition, we have characterised a regulatory element upstream of the Tc-byn transcription start site that confers specific gene expression in the developing hindgut of the Drosophila embryo. Our results demonstrate a highly conserved role for Brachyury-type transcriptional regulators in posterior gut development of insects at the level of expression, function and regulation.

Communicated by S. Roth