Friday, February 24, 2006
"The evolutionary mechanisms responsible for eye degeneration in cave-adapted animals have not been resolved. Opposing hypotheses invoking neural mutation or natural selection, each with certain genetic and developmental expectations, have been advanced to explain eye regression, although little or no experimental evidence has been presented to support or reject either theory. Here we review recent developmental and molecular studies in the teleost Astyanax mexicanus, a single species consisting of a sighted surface-dwelling form (surface fish) and many blind cave-dwelling forms (cavefish), which shed new light on this problem. The manner of eye development and degeneration, the ability to experimentally restore eyes, gene expression patterns, and comparisons between different cavefish populations all provide important clues for understanding the evolutionary forces responsible for eye degeneration. A key discovery is that Hedgehog midline signaling is expanded and inhibits eye formation by inducing lens apoptosis in cavefish embryos. Accordingly, eyes could have been lost by default as a consequence of natural selection for constructive traits, such as feeding structures, which are positively regulated by Hh signaling. We conclude from these studies that eye degeneration in cavefish may be caused by adaptive evolution and pleiotropy."
technorati tags: evolution, eye, degeneration, mexican, blind, cavefish, neutral+mutation, natural+selection, genetic, regression, species, development, hedgehog, midline, signalling, embryos, adaptive, pleiotropy
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Rosenberg, S. M. (1997). "Mutation for survival." Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 7(6): 829-834.
Adaptive mutations appear in response to selection. In the best-studied system, the two most controversial issues were resolved this year. The mutations are neither Lamarckian nor a peculiarity of bacterial sex, as had been suggested. They occur genome-wide in a hypermutable subpopulation of stressed cells. Genomic 'hot' and 'cold' regions may explain previous failures to detect similar mutations in other systems and at other sites. Stationary phase specific limitation of mismatch repair has also been discovered.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Modern birds do not have teeth. Rather, they develop a specialized keratinized structure, called the rhamphotheca, that covers the mandible, maxillae, and premaxillae. Although recombination studies have shown that the avian epidermis can respond to tooth-inductive cues from mouse or lizard oral mesenchyme and participate in tooth formation 1; 2, attempts to initiate tooth development de novo in birds have failed. Here, we describe the formation of teeth in the talpid2 chicken mutant, including the developmental processes and early molecular changes associated with the formation of teeth. Additionally, we show recapitulation of the early events seen in talpid2 after in vivo activation of β-catenin in wild-type embryos. We compare the formation of teeth in the talpid2 mutant with that in the alligator and show the formation of decidedly archosaurian (crocodilian) first-generation teeth in an avian embryo. The formation of teeth in the mutant is coupled with alterations in the specification of the oral/aboral boundary of the jaw. We propose an epigenetic model of the developmental modification of dentition in avian evolution; in this model, changes in the relative position of a lateral signaling center over competent odontogenic mesenchyme led to loss of teeth in avians while maintaining tooth developmental potential.
Related terms: Evolution
Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism
UPDATE: Reprints can be requested from the email addresses here
Sunday, February 19, 2006
[The origin of mutants: Cairns, Overbaugh & Miller, Nature, Sep '88]
Nucleic acids are replicated with conspicuous fidelity. Infrequently, however, they undergo changes in sequence, and this process of change (mutation) generates the variability that allows evolution. As the result of studies of bacterial variation, it is now widely believed that mutations arise continuously and without any consideration for their utility. In this paper, we briefly review the source of this idea and then describe some experiments suggesting that cells may have mechanisms for choosing which mutations will occur.
Related terms: Evolution, e. coli and bacteria, directed mutation.
Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism
UPDATE: I've now got a copy!