logo Evolutionarily conserved developmental pathways

Many developmental pathways found in Drosophila have been conserved, in the evolutionary sense. This means that across a wide variety of animal species, pathways sharing a common function, also share a common origin in the biological past.

This page is currently under construction; it now lists over 40 evolutionarily conserved developmental pathways. The pathways are named according to the processes they govern, and not by the names of the genes involved: for example, "lateral inhibition" rather than "the Notch pathway." Inevitably, there will be cases where the function is less well understood: hence, "the Wingless pathway." More pathways will be added in the near future. Information and references for homologs of genes active in these pathways are found in the Evolutionary homologs section for each gene.

Evolutionarily conserved developmental pathways

Activin signaling pathway - Required in Drosophila in imaginal discs and brain and in vertebrates throughout development

Axon guidance 1 - The role of Netrins and the netrin receptor Frazzled

Axon repulsion - The role of Semaphorins/collapsins and a downstream target

Basement membrane: A functional relationship between SPARC and collagens points to the co-evolution of specialized extracellular matrix macromolecules capable of forming elaborate matrices that provide tissues with their unique biomechanical, biochemical and functional properties

Subdivision of the Brain - Role of orthodenticle and empty spiracles and other transcription factors and signaling proteins

Ca2+ binding proteins and dependent pathways - Conserved systems responsive to the level of Ca2+ ion in the cell

Cell cycle 1: Replication licensing factor (RLF) and Origin replication complex (ORC)

Cell cycle 2: The G1-S transition - Involvement of E2F, Cyclin D, Cyclin E and Retinoblastoma protein

Cell cycle 3: The G2-M transition - Cyclin A, Cyclin B, Cdc2, Wee kinase and Cdc25 phosphatase

Cell cycle 4: Mitotic progression and exit from mitosis - a conserved function for Fizzy and Fizzy-related

Cell cycle 5: Cohesin and condensin complexes assure chromosomal cohesion between replicated chromatids during mitosis and chromosome compaction achieving a manageable chromosomal form

Cell cycle 6: Progression through and completion of mitosis require the actions of the evolutionarily conserved Polo kinase

Cell cycle 7: Aurora B, regulated by chromosomal passenger proteins, coordinates reorganization of cellular components during mitosis

Cell growth and survival - The insulin signaling pathway

Cell polarity - A conserved role for CDC42 and PAR proteins

Cell survival - Epidermal growth factor and its receptor, plus the Ras pathway, and ETS transcription factors

Chromatin assembly and gene activation - Acetylation, histone escorts, and chromatin assembly factors, and histone deacetylase

Compartmentalization - The roles of Wingless and WNTs in adherens junction dynamics and in the targeting of LIM domain proteins and Engrailed

Dorsal-ventral patterning and the immune response - A common pathway activates Dorsal and NF-kappaB, two conserved cRel homologs

Dorsal-ventral polarity - Decapentaplegic and BMPs, including their interacting proteins, receptors and downstream targets

Ectoderm/mesoderm interaction - Ectodermal FGF involvement in development of respiratory and muscle systems

Endodermal and ectodermal portions of the digestive system - Transcription factors required for development of the gut

Extracellular matrix: Functional conservation of extracellular modular proteins and cell surface receptors

Eye morphogenesis control genes - Eyeless (Pax-6), Sine oculis, Hedgehog and Atonal

Gastrulation and posterior patterning: a conserved roles for Caudal

General gene activation machines - NURF and SWI/SNF

Hindbrain and the spinal cord - Conserved role for Antennapedia class homeobox proteins

Limb outgrowth - A conserved role for Distal-less

Lateral inhibition - The Notch pathway

The Learning Pathway - Cyclic AMP Second Messenger System

Mesoderm determination and the early differentiation of muscle

Mitochondrial fusion is mediated by a group of proteins implicated in Parkinson's disease in humans

Molting and the response to small hydrophobic hormones - the steroid receptor superfamily

Muscle induction pathways - Conserved factors involved in determination of cardiac and somatic muscle

Neural, ectodermal and mesodermal patterning - A conserved role for Drosophila pair rule genes

Neuron differentiation - Involvement of POU domain protein in the terminal differetiation of neurons

Neural patterning and epidermal-mesenchymal interactions: conserved function of muscle segment homeobox. Neural patterning is carried out cooperatively with ventral nervous system defective/NK2 in a similar pattern to vertebrate msh and vnd homologs

Paf1 complex manifests its effects on transcription through modulating chromatin structure

Photoperiod response: Pas domain proteins and neurons functioning as a central clock apparatus

Piwi-family members function in a transposon surveillance pathway

Programmed cell death - apoptosis - a common pathway for developmentally regulated cell death

Proneural pathway - Achaete-Scute homologs and interacting proteins

Regionalization of the gut - a collaboration between Hox genes and Bmps

Regulatory responses to decreased oxygen concentrations - a role for the heterodimeric bHLH-PAS transcription hypoxia-inducible factor

RNA interference influences biological processes by silencing expression of genes

Secretory capacity is regulated by CrebA/Creb3-like transcription factors

Segment polarity - Hedgehog and its targets are phylogenetically conserved

Segmentation and segment polarity - a conserved role for Engrailed

Involvement of Notch and Wingless pathways in Segmentation

Septate junctions and MAGUK proteins: Cell-cell interaction and signaling to the interior of cells

Spemann's organizer - Is there a homologous structure in Drosophila?

Stress activated and cell motility feedback pathway: The Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) activated MAP kinase cascade links the Rho family of GTP-binding proteins to transcription of Jun

Subdivision of anterior-posterior axis - a function of Homeobox cluster genes

Tissue patterning and boundary formation: a role for Fringe in modulating Notch signaling

Translation initiation is mediated by a preinitiation complex that includes the cap binding protein eIF4E

Waste removal: Insect nephrocytes and mammalian glomerular podocytes contribute respectively to detoxification of the insect hemolymph and filtration of blood

date revised: 10 February 2012

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