Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 73 - 83 (2013)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.120056ca
© UPV/EHU Press

Brachyury, Tbx2/3 and sall expression during embryogenesis of the indirectly developing polychaete Hydroides elegans

Cesar Arenas-Mena*

Department of Biology, College of Staten Island and Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY), NY, USA

ABSTRACT Expression of the transcription factor genes brachyury, Tbx2/3 and sall is characterized in detail for the first time in an indirectly developing spiralian with a feeding trochophore. In Hydroides elegans, gut formation proceeds by invagination during embryogenesis and is followed by feeding-dependent posterior growth during larval stages. Posterior growth gives rise to the reproductive and segmented portion of the adult and derives primarily from multipotent dorsal blastomeres. Dorsal fate becomes morphologically evident at the 60-cell stage during spiral cleavage, although the timing of dorsal specification remains uncertain. Expression of brachyury anticipates the morphogenetic events associated with both gastrulation by invagination in the endoderm and ventral midline convergent extension in the ectoderm. The absence of brachyury expression in endoderm precursors previously reported in annelids that do not have feeding larvae suggests evolutionarily conserved roles associated with morphogenesis rather than endoderm specification. Synexpression of brachyury and FoxA in the blastopore of eumetazoans as well as in the secondarily formed anus of some protostomes and the mouth of deuterostomes suggests shared regulatory circuits during the formation of both oral and anal openings in protostomes and deuterostomes. Expression of sall during gastrulation, in the protonephridium, and in posterior growth zone precursors, also suggests evolutionarily conserved roles. The dorsal sides of the Hydroides and sea urchin embryos express Tbx2/3 in all three germ layer precursors, suggesting evolutionarily conserved dorsal regionalization functions. The results suggest specific gene usage during tubular gut formation, endoderm specification, dorsoventral specification and anteroposterior body elongation in the context of development by feeding larva.

Keywords:

indirect development, spiralian, bilaterian body plan evolution, gastrulation, terminal addition

*Corresponding author e-mail: cesar.arenasmena@csi.cuny.edu