A single WNT enhancer drives specification and regeneration of the Drosophila wing
pubmed: wnt1 2023-01-28
Nat Commun. 2022 Aug 22;13(1):4794. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-32400-2.
Wings have provided an evolutionary advantage to insects and have allowed them to diversify. Here, we have identified in Drosophila a highly robust regulatory mechanism that ensures the specification and growth of the wing not only during normal development but also under stress conditions. We present evidence that a single wing-specific enhancer in the wingless gene is used in two consecutive developmental stages to first drive wing specification and then contribute to mediating the remarkable regenerative capacity of the developing wing upon injury. We identify two evolutionary conserved cis-regulatory modules within this enhancer that are utilized in a redundant manner to mediate these two activities through the use of distinct molecular mechanisms. Whereas Hedgehog and EGFR signalling regulate Wingless expression in early primordia, thus inducing wing specification from body wall precursors, JNK activation in injured tissues induce Wingless expression to promote compensatory proliferation. These results point to evolutionarily linked conservation of wing specification and regeneration to ensure robust development of the wing, perhaps the most relevant evolutionary novelty in insects.