This is the abstract for this paper. We have had an unforeseen circumstance in our research team, but need to deliver on this literature review. The paper is a review article comparing the mechanisms of head development in vertebrates and invertebrates.
One of the first cell fate decisions made during animal development is to set up anterior/posterior (AP) and dorsal/ventral (DV) axes, followed closely by segmentation, specification and differentiation. Axis specification in Drosophila embryos is regulated by maternal factors. Consequently, these factors activate a series of downstream gap and pair rule genes that lead to the formation of anterior and posterior segments. Precise spatiotemporal organization of these genes is critical for the proper formation of a segmented body plan, which is a defining feature of all insects. Segmentation is observed across different animal phyla, such as vertebrates. Although vertebrate and insect segmentation evolved independently, the organizational logic is conserved. For example while posterior segments are specified by Hox genes, anterior head and brain development is Hox-independent in Drosophila and known vertebrates. Drosophila anterior patterning is regulated by head gap genes such as the critical and early zygotic genes otd, btd and ems. Homologs of these genes are expressed early in vertebrate embryos in the mid-hindbrain and the forebrain domains. In this review we provide a comparative overview of early head development in Drosophila and mouse and zebrafish, whose last common ancestor lived more than 700 MYA. We focus primarily on the genes otd/otx, ems/emx, and btd/sp1/bts1, and their conserved and divergent roles during early anterior specification.
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