Development of a feeding trochophore in the polychaete Hydroides elegans
Published: 15 January 2015
Cesar Arenas-Mena1 and Ava Li2
1Department of Biology, College of Staten Island and Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY), NY and 2Broad Institute of MIT, MA, USA
Hydroides elegans is an indirectly developing polychaete with equal spiral cleavage, gastrulation by invagination, and a feeding trochophore. Expression of several transcription factors and differentiation genes has been characterized. Comparative analysis reveals evolutionarily conserved roles. For example, the synexpression of transcription factors FoxA and Brachyury suggests homology of primary and secondary gut openings in protostomes and deuterostomes, and the expression of Sall suggests similar regulatory controls in the posterior growth zone of bilaterians. Differences in gene expression suggest regulatory differences control gastrulation by invagination in polychaetes with a feeding trochophore and gastrulation by epiboly in polychaetes without a feeding trochophore. Association of histone variant H2A.Z with transcriptional potency and its expression suggest a developmental role during both embryogenesis and the larva-to-adult transformation. Methods are being developed for experimental exploration of the gene regulatory networks involved in trochophore development in Hydroides. It is unknown if polychaete feeding trochophores evolved from a larval stage already present in the life cycle of the last common ancestor of protostomes and deuterostomes. Previous evolutionary scenarios about larval origins overemphasize the discontinuity between larval and adult development and require the early evolution of undifferentiated and transcriptionally potent “set aside” cells. Indirect development may proceed by developmental remodeling of differentiated cells and could have evolved after gradual transformation of juveniles into larvae; undifferentiated and transcriptionally potent cells would have evolved secondarily. Comprehensive characterization of gene regulatory networks for feeding trochophore development may help resolve these major evolutionary questions.