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© Aline Bonnet, Institut Pasteur
Coupe transversale d’embryon de caille transgénique mbGFP à 18somites, au niveau du futur bourgeon de membre antérieur avec un marquage noyaux (bleu), GFP (vert) et actine (rouge) / Transversal section of a mbGFP transgenic quail embryo at 18-somite stage, at forelimb level, with nuclei (blue), GFP (green) and actin (red) labelling
Publication : Nature

A relative shift in cloacal location repositions external genitalia in amniote evolution

Scientific Fields
Diseases
Organisms
Applications
Technique

Published in Nature - 05 Nov 2014

Tschopp P, Sherratt E, Sanger TJ, Groner AC, Aspiras AC, Hu JK, Pourquié O, Gros J, Tabin CJ

Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 25383527

Nature 2014 Dec;516(7531):391-4

The move of vertebrates to a terrestrial lifestyle required major adaptations in their locomotory apparatus and reproductive organs. While the fin-to-limb transition has received considerable attention, little is known about the developmental and evolutionary origins of external genitalia. Similarities in gene expression have been interpreted as a potential evolutionary link between the limb and genitals; however, no underlying developmental mechanism has been identified. We re-examined this question using micro-computed tomography, lineage tracing in three amniote clades, and RNA-sequencing-based transcriptional profiling. Here we show that the developmental origin of external genitalia has shifted through evolution, and in some taxa limbs and genitals share a common primordium. In squamates, the genitalia develop directly from the budding hindlimbs, or the remnants thereof, whereas in mice the genital tubercle originates from the ventral and tail bud mesenchyme. The recruitment of different cell populations for genital outgrowth follows a change in the relative position of the cloaca, the genitalia organizing centre. Ectopic grafting of the cloaca demonstrates the conserved ability of different mesenchymal cells to respond to these genitalia-inducing signals. Our results support a limb-like developmental origin of external genitalia as the ancestral condition. Moreover, they suggest that a change in the relative position of the cloacal signalling centre during evolution has led to an altered developmental route for external genitalia in mammals, while preserving parts of the ancestral limb molecular circuitry owing to a common evolutionary origin.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25383527