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Embryonic expression of a Long Toll (Loto) gene in the onychophorans Euperipatoides kanangrensis and Cephalofovea clandestina

Janssen, Ralf, Lionel, Linushiya
Development genes and evolution 2018 v.228 no.3-4 pp. 171-178
Euperipatoides kanangrensis, arthropods, embryogenesis, gene expression, genes, transcriptome
Recent research has shown that Toll genes, and in particular a newly defined class of Toll genes, the so-called Long Toll Genes (Loto genes), are crucial factors in embryogenesis. In arthropods, they are involved in axis formation via a process called convergent extension (CE). A hallmark of Loto genes is their relatively (compared to other Toll genes) high number of leucine-rich repeat elements (LRRs) coupled with the fact that they are expressed in transverse stripes in all segments, or a subset of segments, patterns that are reminiscent of classical segmentation genes such as the pair-rule genes. Onychophorans represent a close outgroup to the arthropods; however, their embryonic development differs substantially. It is unclear if convergent extension contributes to onychophoran germ band formation and, if so, whether Loto genes are involved in governing this process. This study identifies a single onychophoran Toll gene from a sequenced embryonic transcriptome in two onychophoran species. The identified gene shows sequence and expression pattern characteristics of Loto genes. However, its expression pattern also comprises some general differences to arthropod Loto genes that are involved in CE.