Editors' ChoiceDevelopmental Biology

How to generate head-to-tail polarity in a midge

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Sci. Signal.  02 Jun 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 379, pp. ec149
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac6716

Animal genomes do not remain static but gain and lose essential genes over time. One such case is the bicoid gene of flies. Bicoid plays an important role in early Drosophila development during the generation of head-to-tail polarity, but most flies lack bicoid. Which genes then serve the same function in other insects? Now, Klomp et al. report a structurally unrelated gene that serves essentially the same function as bicoid in a mosquito-related midge but does so through a different genetic mechanism.

J. Klomp, D. Athy, C. W. Kwan, N. I. Bloch, T. Sandmann, S. Lemke, U. Schmidt-Ott, A cysteine-clamp gene drives embryo polarity in the midge Chironomus. Science 348, 1040–1042 (2015). [Abstract] [Full Text]