The centipede Strigamia maritima forms all of its segments during embryogenesis. Trunk segments form sequentially from an apparently undifferentiated disk of cells at the posterior of the germ band. We have previously described periodic patterns of gene expression in this posterior disc that precede overt differentiation of segments, and suggested that a segmentation oscillator may be operating in the posterior disc. We now show that genes of the Notch signalling pathway, including the ligand Delta, and homologues of the Drosophila pair-rule genes even-skipped and hairy, show periodic expression in the posterior disc, consistent with their involvement in, or regulation by, such an oscillator. These genes are expressed in a pattern of apparently expanding concentric rings around the proctodeum, which become stripes at the base of the germ band where segments are emerging. In this transition zone, these primary stripes define a double segment periodicity: segmental stripes of engrailed expression, which mark the posterior of each segment, arise at two different phases of the primary pattern. Delta and even-skipped are also activated in secondary stripes that intercalate between primary stripes in this region, further defining the single segment repeat. These data, together with observations that Notch mediated signalling is required for segment pattern formation in other arthropods, suggest that the ancestral arthropod segmentation cascade may have involved a segmentation oscillator that utilised Notch signalling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Wallace Arthur for his enthusiasm and advice, Giselle Walker for carrying out the phylogenetic analysis of HES family genes, and Carlo Brena, Joakim Eriksson, Franz Kainz and Joel Savard for comments on the manuscript. Wallace Arthur, Carlo Brena, Giselle Walker, Kristen Panfilio and Vincent Vedel participated in embryo collection. This work was funded by BBSRC grant BBS/B/07519.
- Pattern formation