A deficiency of the homeotic complex of the beetle Tribolium

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Abstract

IN Drosophila, the establishment of regional commitments along most of the anterior/posterior axis of the developing embryo depends on two clusters of homeotic genes: the Antennapedia complex (ANT-C) and the bithorax complex (BX-C). The red flour beetle has a single complex (HOM-C) representing the homologues of the ANT-C and BX-C in juxtaposition1. Beetles frans-heterozygous for two particular HOM-C mutations spontaneously generate a large deficiency, presumably by an exchange within the common region of two overlapping inversions. Genetic and molecular results indicate that this deficiency spans at least the interval between the Deformed and abdominal-A homologues. In deficiency homozygous embryos, all gnathal, thoracic and abdominal segments develop antennal appendages, suggesting that a gene(s) has been deleted that acts to distinguish trunk from head. There is no evidence that beetles have a homologue of the segmentation gene fushi tarazu of similar genomic location and function. On the basis of the genetic tractability2, convenient genome size and organization of Tribolium3, and its relatively long phylogenetic divergence from Drosophila (300 million years), we have integrated developmental genetic and molecular analyses of the HOM-C. We isolated about 70 mutations in the complex representing at least six complementation groups. The homeotic phenotypes of adults2 and lethal embryos lead us to believe that these beetle genes are homologous with the Drosophila genes indicated in Fig. 1.

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Stuart, J., Brown, S., Beeman, R. et al. A deficiency of the homeotic complex of the beetle Tribolium. Nature 350, 72–74 (1991) doi:10.1038/350072a0

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