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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Duplicated Pax6 genes in Glomeris marginata (Myriapoda: Diplopoda), an arthropod with simple lateral eyes.

Composite (facetted) eyes comprised by several units, termed ommatidia, are an ancestral feature in the arthropods. Some arthropods, however, do not possess composite eyes, obviously by secondary reduction. Reductions on the level of conserved eye developmental genes are one possibility to reduce the visual system. The genes of the Pax6 family have been shown to be key regulators of visual system development in a wide variety of animals. Reduction of Pax6 expression may therefore be expected in a species with reduced eyes. Here I have investigated the myriapod Glomeris marginata that displays very simple eyes. Glomeris, however, possesses two Pax6 genes that, based on their sequence, are similar to Drosophila eyeless (ey) and twin of eyeless (toy), respectively. Both genes are highly expressed in the optic lobes and the ventral nerve cord of developing embryos. Furthermore, homologs of other high-ranking eye developmental genes like hedgehog, decapentaplegic, dachshund, and homothorax are expressed in the optic lobes. This indicates that eye reduction in Glomeris is not realized at the level of the Pax6 genes or other genes on the upper levels of the eye development network. I suggest instead that the simple eyes of Glomeris are the product of changes at a much lower level in the network, probably at the level of genes directly regulating ommatidia development or ommatidia number and arrangement.[1]


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