Evolution of FTZ protein function in insects

Alonso, Claudio R, Maxton-Kuechenmeister, Joerg and Akam, Michael (2001) Evolution of FTZ protein function in insects. Current Biology, 11 (18). pp. 1473-1478. ISSN 0960-9822

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The Drosophila gene fushi tarazu (ftz) encodes a homeodomain-containing transcriptional regulator (Ftz) required at several stages during development. Drosophila melanogaster ftz (Dm-ftz) is first expressed in seven stripes defining alternate parasegments of the embryoa pair-rule segmentation function [1] and [2]. It is then expressed in specific neural precursor cells in the central nervous system and finally in the developing hindgut [3]. An Orthopteran ortholog of ftz (Sg-ftz, formally Dax) has been isolated from the grasshopper Schistocerca gregaria [4]. The pattern of Sg-ftz expression in Schistocerca embryos suggests that some developmental roles of the ftz gene are likely to be conserved between these two species (e.g., CNS functions) while others may have diverged (e.g., segmentation functions). To test whether the function of the Ftz protein itself differs between these two species, here we compare the functions of Sg-Ftz and Dm-Ftz proteins by expressing both in Drosophila embryos. Sg-ftz mimics only poorly several segmentation roles of Dm-ftz (engrailed activation, wingless repression, and embryonic cuticle transformation). However, the two proteins are similarly active in the rescue of a CNS-specific ftz mutant. These findings argue that this ftz CNS function is mediated by conserved parts of the protein, while efficient pair-rule function requires sequences present specifically in the Drosophila protein.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Here I have conceived the original question - Has protein evolution played an important role during the evolution of development? - conceived the experimental strategy (which involved cloning the ftz gene from different insects, executed the experiment, collected and analysed the data and co-wrote the paper.
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Claudio Alonso
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:08
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2012 14:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29721
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