Recruitment of a hedgehog Regulatory Circuit in Butterfly Eyespot Evolution

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Science  22 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5401, pp. 532-534
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5401.532

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The origin of new morphological characters is a long-standing problem in evolutionary biology. Novelties arise through changes in development, but the nature of these changes is largely unknown. In butterflies, eyespots have evolved as new pattern elements that develop from special organizers called foci. Formation of these foci is associated with novel expression patterns of the Hedgehog signaling protein, its receptor Patched, the transcription factor Cubitus interruptus, and the engrailed target gene that break the conserved compartmental restrictions on this regulatory circuit in insect wings. Redeployment of preexisting regulatory circuits may be a general mechanism underlying the evolution of novelties.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Present address: Department of Cell Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.

  • Present address: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.

  • § To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sbcarrol{at}

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