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Keywords:

  • Pax;
  • Nasonia;
  • evolution;
  • development;
  • octapeptide

Abstract

Pax genes are a group of critical developmental transcriptional regulators in both invertebrates and vertebrates, characterized by the presence of a paired DNA-binding domain. Pax proteins also often contain an octapeptide motif and a C-terminal homeodomain. The genome of Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera) has recently become available, and analysis of this genome alongside Apis mellifera allowed us to contribute to the phylogeny of this gene family in insects. Nasonia, a parasitic wasp, has independently evolved a similar mode of development to that of the well-studied Drosophila, making it an excellent model system for comparative studies of developmental gene networks. We report the characterization of the seven Nasonia Pax genes. We describe their genomic organization, and the embryonic expression of three of them, and uncover wider conservation of the octapeptide motif than previously described.