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Henry, JQ, Lesoway MP, Perry KJ, Osborne CC, Shankland M, Lyons DC.  2017.  Beyond the sea: Crepidula atrasolea as a spiralian model system. International Journal of Developmental Biology. 61:479-493.   10.1387/ijdb.170110jh   AbstractWebsite

This paper introduces the black-footed slipper snail, Crepidula atrasolea, as a new model for biological studies in the Spiralia. C. atrasolea is a calyptraeid gastropod, and congener of the Atlantic slipper snail, C. fornicata. Like C. fornicata, C. atrasolea shares a sedentary, filter-feeding, protandrous lifestyle, but is preferable as a developmental model because of its short generation time, year-round reproduction, and direct development. In our lab, individuals go from egg to reproductive females in under six months, as compared to an estimated 1-2 years for C. fornicata. Here we provide details for collecting and transporting animals, setting up inland aquaria, and maintaining laboratory colonies of C. atrasolea. We also describe early development, which is similar to that in other calyptraeids. Females brood encapsulated embryos for three weeks, which hatch as "crawl-away" juveniles. We also present a developmental transcriptome for C. atrasolea, covering early cleavage through late organogenesis stages, as a useful tool for future studies of gene expression and function. We provide this information to the broader developmental community to facilitate widespread use of this system.

Lyons, DC, Perry KJ, Henry JQ.  2017.  Morphogenesis along the animal-vegetal axis: fates of primary quartet micromere daughters in the gastropod Crepidula fornicata. Bmc Evolutionary Biology. 17   10.1186/s12862-017-1057-1   AbstractWebsite

Background: The Spiralia are a large, morphologically diverse group of protostomes (e.g. molluscs, annelids, nemerteans) that share a homologous mode of early development called spiral cleavage. One of the most highly-conserved features of spiralian development is the contribution of the primary quartet cells, 1a-1d, to the anterior region of the embryo (including the brain, eyes, and the anterior ciliary band, called the prototroch). Yet, very few studies have analyzed the ultimate fates of primary quartet sub-lineages, or examined the morphogenetic events that take place in the anterior region of the embryo. Results: This study focuses on the caenogastropod slipper snail, Crepidula fornicata, a model for molluscan developmental biology. Through direct lineage tracing of primary quartet daughter cells, and examination of these cells during gastrulation and organogenesis stages, we uncovered behaviors never described before in a spiralian. For the first time, we show that the 1a(2)-1d(2) cells do not contribute to the prototroch (as they do in other species) and are ultimately lost before hatching. During gastrulation and anterior-posterior axial elongation stages, these cells cleavage-arrest and spread dramatically, contributing to a thin provisional epidermis on the dorsal side of the embryo. This spreading is coupled with the displacement of the animal pole, and other pretrochal cells, closer to the ventrally-positioned mouth, and the vegetal pole. Conclusions: This is the first study to document the behavior and fate of primary quartet sub-lineages among molluscs. We speculate that the function of 1a(2)-1d(2) cells (in addition to two cells derived from 1d(12), and the 2b lineage) is to serve as a provisional epithelium that allows for anterior displacement of the other progeny of the primary quartet towards the anterior-ventral side of the embryo. These data support a new and novel mechanism for axial bending, distinct from canonical models in which axial bending is suggested to be driven primarily by differential proliferation of posterior dorsal cells. These data suggest also that examining sub-lineages in other spiralians will reveal greater variation than previously assumed.

Perry, KJ, Lyons DC, Truchado-Garcia M, Fischer AHL, Helfrich LW, Johansson KB, Diamond JC, Grande C, Henry JQ.  2015.  Deployment of regulatory genes during gastrulation and germ layer specification in a model spiralian mollusc Crepidula. Developmental Dynamics. 244:1215-1248.   10.1002/dvdy.24308   AbstractWebsite

During gastrulation, endoderm and mesoderm are specified from a bipotential precursor (endomesoderm) that is argued to be homologous across bilaterians. Spiralians also generate mesoderm from ectodermal precursors (ectomesoderm), which arises near the blastopore. While a conserved gene regulatory network controls specification of endomesoderm in deuterostomes and ecdysozoans, little is known about genes controlling specification or behavior of either source of spiralian mesoderm or the digestive tract.: Using the mollusc Crepidula, we examined conserved regulatory factors and compared their expression to fate maps to score expression in the germ layers, blastopore lip, and digestive tract. Many genes were expressed in both ecto- and endomesoderm, but only five were expressed in ectomesoderm exclusively. The latter may contribute to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition seen in ectomesoderm. : We present the first comparison of genes expressed during spiralian gastrulation in the context of high-resolution fate maps. We found variation of genes expressed in the blastopore lip, mouth, and cells that will form the anus. Shared expression of many genes in both mesodermal sources suggests that components of the conserved endomesoderm program were either co-opted for ectomesoderm formation or that ecto- and endomesoderm are derived from a common mesodermal precursor that became subdivided into distinct domains during evolution. Developmental Dynamics 244:1215-1248, 2015. (c) 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Lyons, DC, Perry KJ, Henry JQ.  2015.  Spiralian gastrulation: germ layer formation, morphogenesis, and fate of the blastopore in the slipper snail Crepidula fornicata. Evodevo. 6   10.1186/s13227-015-0019-1   AbstractWebsite

Background: Gastrulation is a critical step in bilaterian development, directly linked to the segregation of germ layers, establishment of axes, and emergence of the through-gut. Theories about the evolution of gastrulation often concern the fate of the blastopore (site of endomesoderm internalization), which varies widely in a major branch of bilaterians, the Spiralia. In this group, the blastopore has been said to become the mouth, the anus, both, or neither. Different developmental explanations for this variation exist, yet no modern lineage tracing study has ever correlated the position of cells surrounding the blastopore with their contribution to tissues of the mouth, foregut, and anus in a spiralian. This is the first study to do so, using the gastropod Crepidula fornicata. Results: Crepidula gastrulation occurs by epiboly: the first through third quartet micromeres form an epithelial animal cap that expands to cover vegetal endomesodermal precursors. Initially, descendants of the second and third quartet micromeres (2a-2d, 3a-3d) occupy a portion of the blastopore lip. As the blastopore narrows, the micromeres' progeny exhibit lineage-specific behaviors that result in certain sublineages leaving the lip's edge. Anteriorly, cells derived from 3a(2) and 3b(2) undergo a unique epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition involving proliferation and a collective movement of cells into the archenteron. These cells make a novel spiralian germ layer, the ectomesoderm. Posteriorly, cells derived from 3c(2) and 3d(2) undergo a form of convergence and extension that involves zippering of cells and their intercalation across the ventral midline. During this process, several of these cells, as well as the 2d clone, become displaced posteriorly, away from the blastopore. Progeny of 2a-2c and 3a-3d make the mouth and foregut, and the blastopore becomes the opening to the mouth. The anus forms days later, as a secondary opening within the 2d(2) clone, and not from the classically described "anal cells", which we identify as the 3c(221) and 3d(221) cells. Conclusions: Our analysis of Crepidula gastrulation constitutes the first description of blastopore lip morphogenesis and fates using lineage tracing and live imaging. These data have profound implications for hypotheses about the evolution of the bilaterian gut and help explain observed variation in blastopore morphogenesis among spiralians.

Lyons, DC, Henry JQ.  2014.  Ins and outs of Spiralian gastrulation. International Journal of Developmental Biology. 58:413-428.   10.1387/ijdb.140151dl   AbstractWebsite

Gastrulation is a critical stage of metazoan development during which endodermal and mesodermal tissues are internalized, and morphogenesis transforms the early embryo into each animal's unique body-plan. While gastrulation has been studied extensively in classic model systems such as flies, worms, and vertebrates, less is known about gastrulation at a mechanistic level in other taxa. Surprisingly, one particularly neglected group constitutes a major branch of animals: the Spiralia. A unique feature of spiralian development is that taxa with diverse adult body-plans, such as annelids, molluscs, nemerteans and platyhelminths all share a highly stereotyped suite of characters during embryogenesis called spiral cleavage.The spiral cleavage program makes it possible to compare distantly related embryos using not only morphological features, and gene expression patterns, but also homologous cell lineages. Having all three criteria available for comparison is especially critical for understanding the evolution of a complex process like gastrulation.Thus studying gastrulation in spiralians is likely to lead to novel insights about the evolution of body-plans, and the evolution of morphogenesis itself. Here we review relevant literature about gastrulation in spiralians and frame questions for future studies. We describe the internalization of the endoderm, endomesoderm and ectomesoderm; where known, we review data on the cellular and molecular control of those processes. We also discuss several morphogenetic events that are tied to gastrulation including: axial elongation, origins of the mouth and anus, and the fate of the blastopore. Since spiral cleavage is ancestral for a major branch of bilaterians, understanding gastrulation in spiralians will contribute more broadly to ongoing debates about animal body-plan divergence, such as: the origin of the through-gut, the emergence of indirect versus direct development, and the evolution of gene-regulatory networks that specify endomesoderm. We emphasize the fact that spiralian gastrulation provides the unique opportunity to connect well-defined embryonic cell lineages to variation in cell fate and cell behavior, making it an exceptional case study for evo-devo.