ftz Evolution: Findings, hypotheses and speculations (response to DOI 10.1002/bies.201100019)

Authors

  • Alison Heffer,

    1. Department of Entomology and Program in Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
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    • These authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Ulrike Löhr,

    1. Max-Planck-Institut für Biophysikalische Chemie, Abteilung Molekulare Entwicklungsbiologie, Göttingen, Germany
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    • These authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Leslie Pick

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Entomology and Program in Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
    • Department of Entomology and Program in Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.
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Abstract

In a recent paper, Merabet and Hudry discuss models explaining the functional evolution of fushi tarazu (ftz) from an ancestral homeotic to a pair-rule segmentation gene in Drosophila. As most of the experimental work underlying these models comes from our research, we wish to reply to Merabet and Hudry providing an explanation of the experimental approaches and logical framework underlying them. We review experimental data that support our hypotheses and discuss misconceptions in the literature. We emphasize that the change in ftz function required changes in both expression pattern and protein function and review the evidence that these functional changes involved a switch in cofactor-interaction motifs during arthropod radiations. While agreeing with Merabet and Hudry that protein context likely contributes to Ftz function, we argue that until supporting evidence for alternative mechanisms is obtained, the role of cofactor-interaction motifs in driving a functional switch remains compelling.

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