, Volume 208, Issue 5, pp 283-289

A caudal homologue in the short germ band beetle Tribolium shows similarities to both, the Drosophila and the vertebrate caudal expression patterns

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Abstract

 We have isolated a homologue to the Drosophila caudal (cad) gene from the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum and have studied its expression pattern. The Tribolium caudal (Tc-cad) gene arrangement is unusual in that there is a partial duplication of the gene resulting in alternative transcripts with identical 5′-exons, but different 3′-exons encoding two different homeoboxes. Expression analysis was done by whole-mount in situ hybridization and by staining with an antibody raised against the N-terminal part of the protein that is common to both transcripts. At early stages we observe a homogeneously distributed maternal mRNA which is initially also translated throughout the embryo. A little later, a posterior to anterior CAD protein gradient is formed, very similar to that in Drosophila. However, because of the differences in the fate map between Drosophila and Tribolium, the CAD protein expression at blastoderm stage covers the prospective head and thoracic region and not the abdomen as in Drosophila. Expression of Tc-cad in the prospective abdomen is only seen during further germband growth where it becomes restricted to the growth zone in which the segments are formed. This expression is very similar to the growth zone expression in the somitogenic region seen for cad homologues in vertebrates. After the completion of the segmentation process Tc-cad expression becomes confined to a terminal stripe which resembles a similar stripe at late blastoderm stages in Drosophila.

Received: 18 February 1998 / Accepted: 10 April 1998