Hedgehog signaling controls segmentation dynamics and diversity via msx1 in a spider embryo

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Science Advances  09 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 37, eaba7261
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba7261


Hedgehog (Hh) signaling plays fundamental roles in animal body patterning. Understanding its mechanistic complexity requires simple tractable systems that can be used for these studies. In the early spider embryo, Hh signaling mediates the formation of overall anterior-posterior polarity, yet it remains unclear what mechanisms link the initial Hh signaling activity with body axis segmentation, in which distinct periodic stripe-forming dynamics occur depending on the body region. We performed genome-wide searches for genes that transcriptionally respond to altered states of Hh signaling. Characterization of genes negatively regulated by Hh signaling suggested that msx1, encoding a conserved transcription factor, functions as a key segmentation gene. Knockdown of msx1 prevented all dynamic processes causing spatial repetition of stripes, including temporally repetitive oscillations and bi-splitting, and temporally nonrepetitive tri-splitting. Thus, Hh signaling controls segmentation dynamics and diversity via msx1. These genome-wide data from an invertebrate illuminate novel mechanistic features of Hh-based patterning.

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