1. Developmental Biology
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Functional evolution of a morphogenetic gradient

  1. Chun Wai Kwan
  2. Jackie Gavin-Smyth
  3. Edwin L Ferguson
  4. Urs Schmidt-Ott  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Chicago, United States
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  • Cited 10
  • Views 1,598
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e20894 doi: 10.7554/eLife.20894

Abstract

Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) pattern the dorsal-ventral axis of bilaterian embryos; however, their roles in the evolution of body plan are largely unknown. We examined their functional evolution in fly embryos. BMP signaling specifies two extraembryonic tissues, the serosa and amnion, in basal-branching flies such as Megaselia abdita, but only one, the amnioserosa, in Drosophila melanogaster. The BMP signaling dynamics are similar in both species until the beginning of gastrulation, when BMP signaling broadens and intensifies at the edge of the germ rudiment in Megaselia, while remaining static in Drosophila. Here we show that the differences in gradient dynamics and tissue specification result from evolutionary changes in the gene regulatory network that controls the activity of a positive feedback circuit on BMP signaling, involving the tumor necrosis factor alpha homolog eiger. These data illustrate an evolutionary mechanism by which spatiotemporal changes in morphogen gradients can guide tissue complexity.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Chun Wai Kwan

    Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Jackie Gavin-Smyth

    Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Edwin L Ferguson

    Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Urs Schmidt-Ott

    Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States
    For correspondence
    uschmid@uchicago.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1351-9472

Funding

National Science Foundation (IOS-1121211)

  • Urs Schmidt-Ott

University of Chicago (Hinds Fund graduate student award)

  • Chun Wai Kwan

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Marianne Bronner, California Institute of Technology, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: August 23, 2016
  2. Accepted: December 20, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 22, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: January 10, 2017 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2016, Kwan et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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Further reading

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