Gap genes mediate the division of the anterior-posterior axis of insects into different fates through regulating downstream hox genes. Decades of tinkering the segmentation gene network of Drosophila melanogaster led to the conclusion that gap genes are regulated (at least initially) through a threshold-based mechanism, guided by both anteriorly- and posteriorly-localized morphogen gradients. In this paper, we show that the response of the gap gene network in the beetle Tribolium castaneum upon perturbation is consistent with a threshold-free 'Speed Regulation' mechanism, in which the speed of a genetic cascade of gap genes is regulated by a posterior morphogen gradient. We show this by re-inducing the leading gap gene (namely, hunchback) resulting in the re-induction of the gap gene cascade at arbitrary points in time. This demonstrates that the gap gene network is self-regulatory and is primarily under the control of a posterior regulator in Tribolium and possibly other short/intermediate-germ insects.
- Ezzat El-Sherif
- Martin Klingler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Naama Barkai, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
© 2018, Boos et al.
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