" With over 18,000 species, the Acanthomorpha, or spiny-rayed fishes, form the largest and arguably most diverse radiation of vertebrates. One of the key novelties that contributed to their evolutionary success are the spiny rays in their fins that serve as a defense mechanism. We investigated the patterning mechanisms underlying the differentiation of median fin Anlagen into discrete spiny and soft-rayed domains during the ontogeny of the direct-developing cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni. Distinct transcription factor signatures characterize these two fin domains, whereby mutually exclusive expression of hoxa13a/b with alx4a/b and tbx2b marks the spine to soft-ray boundary. The soft-ray domain is established by BMP inhibition via gremlin1b, which synergizes in the posterior fin with shh secreted from a zone of polarizing activity. Modulation of BMP signaling by chemical inhibition or gremlin1b CRISPR/Cas9 knockout induces homeotic transformations of spines into soft rays and vice versa. The expression of spine and soft-ray genes in nonacanthomorph fins indicates that a combination of exaptation and posterior expansion of an ancestral developmental program for the anterior fin margin allowed the evolution of robustly individuated spiny and soft-rayed domains. We propose that a repeated exaptation of such pattern might underly the convergent evolution of anterior spiny-fin elements across fishes "
Classification: Genes and genetics, Lake Tanganyika.
Reference in bibliography for species (1)
Höch, Rebekka & R.F. Schneider, A. Kickuth, A. Meyer, J.M. Woltering. 2021. "Spiny and soft-rayed fin domains in acanthomorph fish are established through a BMP-gremlin-shh signaling network". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. v. 118(n. 29), pp. e2101783118. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2101783118 (crc11482) (abstract)