1Present address: Ralf Janssen, Department for Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Palaeontology Group, Villavägen 16, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden.
Diverged and conserved aspects of heart formation in a spider
Version of Record online: 3 MAR 2008
© 2008 The Author(s); Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Evolution & Development
Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 155–165, March/April 2008
How to Cite
Janssen, R. and Damen, W. G.M. (2008), Diverged and conserved aspects of heart formation in a spider. Evolution & Development, 10: 155–165. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2008.00223.x
- Issue online: 3 MAR 2008
- Version of Record online: 3 MAR 2008
SUMMARY Heart development exhibits some striking similarities between vertebrates and arthropods, for example in both cases the heart develops as a linear tube from mesodermal cells. Furthermore, the underlying molecular pathways exhibit a significant number of similarities between vertebrates and the fruit fly Drosophila, suggesting a common origin of heart development in the last common ancestor of flies and vertebrates. However, there is hardly any molecular data from other animals. Here we show that many of the key genes are also active in heart development in the spider Cupiennius salei. Spiders belong to the chelicerates and are distantly related to insects with respect to the other arthropods. The tinman/Nkx2.5 ortholog is the first gene to be specifically expressed in the presumptive spider heart, like in flies and vertebrates. We also show that tinman is expressed in a similar way in the beetle Tribolium castaneum. Taken together this demonstrates that tinman has a conserved role in the specification of the arthropod heart. In addition, we analyzed the expression of other heart genes (decapentaplegic, Wnt5, H15, even-skipped, and Mef2 ) in Cupiennius. The expression of these genes suggests that the genetic pathway of heart development may be largely conserved among arthropods. However, a major difference is seen in the earlier expression of the even-skipped gene in the developing spider heart compared with Drosophila, implying that the role of even-skipped in heart formation might have changed during arthropod evolution. The most striking finding, however, is that in addition to the dorsal tissue of the fourth walking leg segment and the opisthosomal segments, we discovered tinman-expressing cells that arise from a position dorsal to the cephalic lobe and that contribute to the anterior dorsal vessel. In contrast to the posterior heart tissue, these cells do not express the other heart genes. The spider heart thus is composed of two distinct populations of cells.