A role for Fringe in segment morphogenesis but not segment formation in the grasshopper, Schistocerca gregaria
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- Dearden, P. & Akam, M. Dev Gene Evol (2000) 210: 329. doi:10.1007/s004270000072
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Studies of somitogenesis in vertebrates have identified a number of genes that are regulated by a periodic oscillator that patterns the pre-somitic mesoderm. One of these genes, hairy, is homologous to a Drosophila segmentation gene that also shows periodic spatial expression. This, and the periodic expression of a zebrafish homologue of hairy during somitogenesis, has suggested that insect segmentation and vertebrate somitogenesis may use similar molecular mechanisms and possibly share a common origin. In chicks and mice expression of the lunatic fringe gene also oscillates in the presomitic mesoderm. Fringe encodes an extracellular protein that regulates Notch signalling. This, and the finding that mutations in Notch or its ligands disrupt somite patterning, suggests that Notch signalling plays an important role in vertebrate somitogenesis. Although Notch signalling is not known to play a role in the formation of segments in Drosophila, we reasoned that it might do so in other insects such as the grasshopper, where segment boundaries form between cells, not between syncytial nuclei as they do in Drosophila. Here we report the cloning of a single fringe gene from the grasshopper Schistocerca. We show that it is not detectably expressed in the forming trunk segments of the embryo until after segment boundaries have formed. We conclude that fringe is not part of the mechanism that makes segments in Schistocerca. Thereafter it is expressed in a pattern which shows that it is a downstream target of the segmentation machinery and suggests that it may play a role in segment morphogenesis. Like its Drosophila counterpart, Schistocerca fringe is also expressed in the eye, in rings in the legs, and during oogenesis, in follicle cells.