The expression and function of the achaete-scute genes in Tribolium castaneum reveals conservation and variation in neural pattern formation and cell fate specification

Scott R. Wheeler, Michelle L. Carrico, Beth A. Wilson, Susan J. Brown, James B. Skeath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study of achaete-scute (ac/sc) genes has recently become a paradigm to understand the evolution and development of the arthropod nervous system. We describe the identification and characterization of the ac/sc genes in the coleopteran insect species Tribolium castaneum. We have identified two Tribolium ac/sc genes - achaete-scute homolog (Tc-ASH) a proneural gene and asense (Tc-ase) a neural precursor gene that reside in a gene complex. Focusing on the embryonic central nervous system we find that Tc-ASH is expressed in all neural precursors and the proneural clusters from which they segregate. Through RNAi and misexpression studies we show that Tc-ASH is necessary for neural precursor formation in Tribolium and sufficient for neural precursor formation in Drosophila. Comparison of the function of the Drosophila and Tribolium proneural ac/sc genes suggests that in the Drosophila lineage these genes have maintained their ancestral function in neural precursor formation and have acquired a new role in the fate specification of individual neural precursors. Furthermore, we find that Tc-ase is expressed in all neural precursors suggesting an important and conserved role for asense genes in insect nervous system development. Our analysis of the Tribolium ac/sc genes indicates significant plasticity in gene number, expression and function, and implicates these modifications in the evolution of arthropod neural development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4373-4381
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopment
Volume130
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2003

Keywords

  • Achaete-scute
  • Central nervous system
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Tribolium castaneum

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