The leech hunchback protein is expressed in the epithelium and CNS but not in the segmental precursor lineages
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We are interested in identifying the regulatory genes involved in segmental pattern formation in annelids. The Drosophila segmentation gene hunchback (hb) is critical for the proper anteroposterior development of the fly embryo, but its function outside the diptera is currently unknown. Here, the protein expression pattern of Leech Zinc Finger II (LZF2), a leech orthologue of hb is characterized. In early embryogenesis, LZF2 protein is expressed in a subset of micromeres and is later expressed in the micromere-derived epithelium of the provisional epithelium and prostomium. LZF2 protein is detected in the ventral nerve cord during organogenesis, first in interganglionic muscle cells and later in subsets of neurons in each neuromere of the CNS. The location of immunoreactive cells during development and the similarity of the expression pattern of LZF2 to the expression of the Caenhorhabditis elegans hb homologue hbl-1 suggests that LZF2 plays a role in the morphogenetic movements of leech gastrulation and later in CNS specification but not in anteroposterior pattern formation.
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