One such model predicts that the curvature (or splay) of segmenta

One such model predicts that the curvature (or splay) of segmentation gene expression patterns

along the D–V axis is caused by asymmetries in the Bcd gradient owing to the bulging ventral contour of the embryo [62]. However, a full 3D model of the gap gene system indicates that this may only be true in the anterior part of the embryo, while Bcd asymmetry is insufficient to explain the splay of more posterior patterns [63]. Neither of two recent 3D models of gap gene expression [63 and 64] have led to new insights into gap gene regulation beyond those achieved with one-dimensional models, and a model-based attempt to dissect the gap gene system into functional modules [58] has not identified any regulatory principles beyond Thiazovivin research buy those described in earlier work [59]. Development produces body proportions that are invariant with respect to egg size – a property referred to as scaling. Scaling between different species of flies has been shown to depend on the evolution of Bcd protein stability, which leads to larger length-scale gradients in big, and shorter length-scale gradients in small eggs [65]. Bcd and its target genes also scale, albeit partially, between and within D. melanogaster GSK2118436 purchase populations [ 66, 67, 68 and 69•]. This effect is inherited maternally [ 66], and relies on the level of bcd mRNA

present in these embryos rather than direct adjustment of the length scale of the gradient [ 69•]. The hypothesis that nuclear degradation or trapping of Bcd could provide scaling if the number of nuclei is constant [ 23, 31 and 70] has been invalidated by the observation that nuclear import does not affect the gradient [ 26•], and that the number of nuclei varies with embryo size [ 68]. These studies suggest that maternal gradients such as Bcd Phospholipase D1 scale with egg size, although the mechanisms differ between evolutionary time scales. The evidence reviewed above does not entirely exclude a role of target gene interactions in scaling. A model of the

gap gene network [49 and 71] predicts size regulation in the absence of Bcd scaling owing to negative regulatory feedback within the network. This model implicitly depends on diffusion of maternal gradients, but not on diffusion of gap gene products. Although this mechanism remains to be tested empirically, it is a potential explanation for why pair-rule gene expression scales across 80% of the blastoderm [68] even though the Bcd gradient exhibits size regulation only in the middle of the embryo [69•]. Precision and robustness of patterning are achieved despite variability in initial conditions (maternal gradients) and stochastic fluctuations in gene expression. Insensitivity to initial conditions is reflected by the fact that positional error in target genes is lower than in maternal gradients [49 and 72] and reduces over time [73].

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