Gene regulatory networks in Drosophila early embryonic development as a model for the study of the temporal identity of neuroblasts.Biosystems. 2020 Jun 30 [Online ahead of print]B
Genes belonging to the "gap" and "gap-like" family constitute the best-studied gene regulatory networks (GRNs) in Drosophila embryogenesis. Gap genes are a core of two subnetworks controlling embryonic segmentation: (hunchback, hb; Krüppel, Kr; giant, gt; and knirps, kni) and (hb; Kr; pou-domain, pdm; and, probably, castor, cas). Of particular interest is that (hb, Kr, pdm, cas) also specifies the temporal identity of stem cells, neuroblasts, in Drosophila neurogenesis. This GRN controls the sequential differentiation of neuroblasts during the asymmetric cell division. In the last decades, modeling of the patterning of gene ensemble (hb, Kr, gt, kni) in segmentation was in the center of attention. We show that our previously published and extensively studied model at a certain level of external factors is able to reproduce temporal patterns of (hb, Kr, pdm, cas) in neurogenesis with minor evolutionary explicable modifications. This result testifies in favor of a hypothesis that the similarity of two gene ensembles active in segmentation and neurogenesis is a result of co-option of the network architecture in evolution from the common ancestral form. By means of the model dynamical analysis, it is shown that the establishment of the robust patterns in both systems could be explained in terms of the action of attractors in the gap gene dynamical system. We formulate the common principles underlying the robustness of both GRNs in segmentation and neurogenesis due to the similar functional organization of the gene ensembles as having the same evolutionary origin.