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Cuticle differentiation in the embryo of the amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis

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      The arthropod cuticle is a multilayered extracellular matrix produced by the epidermis during embryogenesis and moulting. Molecularly and histologically, cuticle differentiation has been extensively investigated in the embryo of the insect Drosophila melanogaster. To learn about the evolution of cuticle differentiation, we have studied the histology of cuticle differentiation during embryogenesis of the amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis, which had a common ancestor with Drosophila about 510 million years ago. The establishment of the layers of the Parhyale juvenile cuticle is largely governed by mechanisms observed in Drosophila, e.g. as in Drosophila, the synthesis and arrangement of chitin in the inner procuticle are separate processes. A major difference between the cuticle of Parhyale and Drosophila concerns the restructuring of the Parhyale dorsal epicuticle after deposition. In contrast to the uniform cuticle of the Drosophila larva, the Parhyale cuticle is subdivided into two regions, the ventral and the dorsal cuticles. Remarkably, the boundary between the ventral and dorsal cuticles is sharp suggesting active extracellular regionalisation. The present analysis of Parhyale cuticle differentiation should allow the characterisation of the cuticle-producing and -organising factors of Parhyale (by comparison with the branchiopod crustacean Daphnia pulex) in order to contribute to the elucidation of fundamental questions relevant to extracellular matrix organisation and differentiation.

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      Insect chitin synthases: a review.

      Chitin is the most widespread amino polysaccharide in nature. The annual global amount of chitin is believed to be only one order of magnitude less than that of cellulose. It is a linear polymer composed of N-acetylglucosamines that are joined in a reaction catalyzed by the membrane-integral enzyme chitin synthase, a member of the family 2 of glycosyltransferases. The polymerization requires UDP-N-acetylglucosamines as a substrate and divalent cations as co-factors. Chitin formation can be divided into three distinct steps. In the first step, the enzymes' catalytic domain facing the cytoplasmic site forms the polymer. The second step involves the translocation of the nascent polymer across the membrane and its release into the extracellular space. The third step completes the process as single polymers spontaneously assemble to form crystalline microfibrils. In subsequent reactions the microfibrils combine with other sugars, proteins, glycoproteins and proteoglycans to form fungal septa and cell walls as well as arthropod cuticles and peritrophic matrices, notably in crustaceans and insects. In spite of the good effort by a hardy few, our present knowledge of the structure, topology and catalytic mechanism of chitin synthases is rather limited. Gaps remain in understanding chitin synthase biosynthesis, enzyme trafficking, regulation of enzyme activity, translocation of chitin chains across cell membranes, fibrillogenesis and the interaction of microfibrils with other components of the extracellular matrix. However, cumulating genomic data on chitin synthase genes and new experimental approaches allow increasingly clearer views of chitin synthase function and its regulation, and consequently chitin biosynthesis. In the present review, I will summarize recent advances in elucidating the structure, regulation and function of insect chitin synthases as they relate to what is known about fungal chitin synthases and other glycosyltransferases.
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        Ecdysozoan phylogeny and Bayesian inference: first use of nearly complete 28S and 18S rRNA gene sequences to classify the arthropods and their kin.

        Relationships among the ecdysozoans, or molting animals, have been difficult to resolve. Here, we use nearly complete 28S+18S ribosomal RNA gene sequences to estimate the relations of 35 ecdysozoan taxa, including newly obtained 28S sequences from 25 of these. The tree-building algorithms were likelihood-based Bayesian inference and minimum-evolution analysis of LogDet-transformed distances, and hypotheses were tested wth parametric bootstrapping. Better taxonomic resolution and recovery of established taxa were obtained here, especially with Bayesian inference, than in previous parsimony-based studies that used 18S rRNA sequences (or 18S plus small parts of 28S). In our gene trees, priapulan worms represent the basal ecdysozoans, followed by nematomorphs, or nematomorphs plus nematodes, followed by Panarthropoda. Panarthropoda was monophyletic with high support, although the relationships among its three phyla (arthropods, onychophorans, tardigrades) remain uncertain. The four groups of arthropods-hexapods (insects and related forms), crustaceans, chelicerates (spiders, scorpions, horseshoe crabs), and myriapods (centipedes, millipedes, and relatives)-formed two well-supported clades: Hexapoda in a paraphyletic crustacea (Pancrustacea), and 'Chelicerata+Myriapoda' (a clade that we name 'Paradoxopoda'). Pycnogonids (sea spiders) were either chelicerates or part of the 'chelicerate+myriapod' clade, but not basal arthropods. Certain clades derived from morphological taxonomy, such as Mandibulata, Atelocerata, Schizoramia, Maxillopoda and Cycloneuralia, are inconsistent with these rRNA data. The 28S gene contained more signal than the 18S gene, and contributed to the improved phylogenetic resolution. Our findings are similar to those obtained from mitochondrial and nuclear (e.g., elongation factor, RNA polymerase, Hox) protein-encoding genes, and should revive interest in using rRNA genes to study arthropod and ecdysozoan relationships.
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          wFleaBase: the Daphnia genome database

          Background wFleaBase is a database with the necessary infrastructure to curate, archive and share genetic, molecular and functional genomic data and protocols for an emerging model organism, the microcrustacean Daphnia. Commonly known as the water-flea, Daphnia's ecological merit is unequaled among metazoans, largely because of its sentinel role within freshwater ecosystems and over 200 years of biological investigations. By consequence, the Daphnia Genomics Consortium (DGC) has launched an interdisciplinary research program to create the resources needed to study genes that affect ecological and evolutionary success in natural environments. Discussion These tools include the genome database wFleaBase, which currently contains functions to search and extract information from expressed sequenced tags, genome survey sequences and full genome sequencing projects. This new database is built primarily from core components of the Generic Model Organism Database project, and related bioinformatics tools. Summary Over the coming year, preliminary genetic maps and the nearly complete genomic sequence of Daphnia pulex will be integrated into wFleaBase, including gene predictions and ortholog assignments based on sequence similarities with eukaryote genes of known function. wFleaBase aims to serve a large ecological and evolutionary research community. Our challenge is to rapidly expand its content and to ultimately integrate genetic and functional genomic information with population-level responses to environmental challenges. URL: .

            Author and article information

            Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Spemannstrasse 35, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
            Cell Tissue Res
            Cell and Tissue Research
            Springer-Verlag (Berlin/Heidelberg )
            22 February 2008
            May 2008
            : 332
            : 2
            : 359-370
            © Springer-Verlag 2008
            Regular Article
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            © Springer-Verlag 2008


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