Hox Genes, Digit Identities and the Theropod/Bird Transition

Galis, F., Kundrat, M., & Metz, J.A.J. (2005). Hox Genes, Digit Identities and the Theropod/Bird Transition. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-05-065

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Vargas and Fallon (2005) propose that Hox gene expression patterns indicate that the most anterior digit in bird wings is homologous to digit 1 rather than to digit 2 in other amniotes. This interpretation is based on the presence of Hoxd13 expression in combination with the absence of Hoxd12 expression in the second digit condensation from which this digit develops (the first condensation is transiently present). This is a pattern that is similar to that in the developing digit 1 of the chicken foot and the mouse hand and foot. They have tested this new hypothesis by analysing Hoxd12 and Hoxd13 expression patterns in two polydactylous chicken mutants, Silkie and talpid2. They conclude that the data supports the notion that the most anterior remaining digit of the bird wing is homologous to digit 1 in other amniotes either in a standard phylogenetic sense, or alternatively in a (limited) developmental sense in agreement with the Frameshift Hypothesis of Wagner and Gautier (1997, i.e. that the developmental pathway is homologous to the one that leads to a digit 1 identity in other amniotes, albeit that it occurs in the second instead of the first digit condensation). We argue that the Hoxd12 and Hoxd13 expression patterns found for these and other limb mutants do not allow distinguishing between the hypothesis of Vargas and Fallon (2005) and the alternative one, i.e. the most anterior digit in bird wings is homologous to digit 2 in other amniotes, in a phylogenetic, or developmental sense. Therefore, at the moment the data on limb mutants does not present a challenge to the hypothesis, based on other developmental data (Holmgren 55, Hinchliffe 484, Burke and Feduccia 497, Kundrat et al. 2002, Larsson and Wagner 2002, Feduccia and Nowicki 2002), that the digits of bird wings are homologous to digits 2,3,4 in amniotes. We recommend further testing of the hypothesis by comparing Hoxd expression patterns in different taxa.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Adaptive Dynamics Network (ADN)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:18
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:19
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/7777

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