Hox genes regulate asexual reproductive behavior and tissue segmentation in adult animals
Arnold CP, Migueles Lozano A, Mann FG, Lange JJ, Seidel C, Sánchez Alvarado A.
Hox genes are highly conserved transcription factors renowned for their roles in the segmental patterning of the embryonic anterior-posterior (A/P) axis. Emerging evidence for Hox gene expression and function in postnatally derived structures has fueled interest in their additional roles beyond embryogenesis. We report novel functions for Hox genes in A/P adult tissue segmentation and transverse fission behavior underlying asexual reproduction in the planarian flatworm, Schmidtea mediterranea. Silencing of each of the planarian Hox family members identified 5 Hox genes required for asexual reproduction. Among these, silencing of hox3 genes resulted in supernumerary segments, while silencing of post2b eliminated segmentation altogether. The opposing roles of hox3 and post2b in segmentation are paralleled in their respective regulation of fission behavior. Silencing of hox3 increased the frequency of fission behavior initiation, while silencing of post2b eliminated fission behavior entirely. Furthermore, we identified a network of downstream effector genes mediating Hox gene regulation of asexual reproduction, thereby providing insight into their respective mechanisms of action. Our study establishes postembryonic roles for Hox genes in regulating the emergence of tissue segmentation and specific behaviors associated with asexual reproduction in adult animals.
Arnold CP, MiguelesLozano A, MannFG, Lange JJ, Seidel C, SánchezAlvarado A. Hox genes regulate asexual reproductive behavior and tissue segmentation in adult animals. bioRxiv; https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.24.427972 (Posted January 26, 2021)