Pax3/7 genes reveal conservation and divergence in the arthropod segmentation hierarchy. Academic Article uri icon


  • Several features of Pax3/7 gene expression are shared among distantly related insects, including pair-rule, segment polarity, and neural patterns. Recent data from arachnids imply that roles in segmentation and neurogenesis are likely to be played by Pax3/7 genes in all arthropods. To further investigate Pax3/7 genes in non-insect arthropods, we isolated two monoclonal antibodies that recognize the products of Pax3/7 genes in a wide range of taxa, allowing us to quickly survey Pax3/7 expression in all four major arthropod groups. Epitope analysis reveals that these antibodies react to a small subset of Paired-class homeodomains, which includes the products of all known Pax3/7 genes. Using these antibodies, we find that Pax3/7 genes in crustaceans are expressed in an early broad and, in one case, dynamic domain followed by segmental stripes, while myriapods and chelicerates exhibit segmental stripes that form early in the posterior-most part of the germ band. This suggests that Pax3/7 genes acquired their role in segmentation deep within, or perhaps prior to, the arthropod lineage. However, we do not detect evidence of pair-rule patterning in either myriapods or chelicerates, suggesting that the early pair-rule expression pattern of Pax3/7 genes in insects may have been acquired within the crustacean-hexapod lineage.

publication date

  • September 1, 2005