Gene regulation during Drosophila eggshell patterning [Developmental Biology]
A common path to the formation of complex 3D structures starts with an epithelial sheet that is patterned by inductive cues that control the spatiotemporal activities of transcription factors. These activities are then interpreted by the cis-regulatory regions of the genes involved in cell differentiation and tissue morphogenesis. Although this general strategy has been documented in multiple developmental contexts, the range of experimental models in which each of the steps can be examined in detail and evaluated in its effect on the final structure remains very limited. Studies of the Drosophila eggshell patterning provide unique insights into the multiscale mechanisms that connect gene regulation and 3D epithelial morphogenesis. Here we review the current understanding of this system, emphasizing how the recent identification of cis-regulatory regions of genes within the eggshell patterning network enables mechanistic analysis of its spatiotemporal dynamics and evolutionary diversification. It appears that cis-regulatory changes can account for only some aspects of the morphological diversity of Drosophila eggshells, such as the prominent differences in the number of the respiratory dorsal appendages. Other changes, such as the appearance of the respiratory eggshell ridges, are caused by changes in the spatial distribution of inductive signals. Both types of mechanisms are at play in this rapidly evolving system, which provides an excellent model of developmental patterning and morphogenesis.
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