Oncopeltus fasciatus zen is essential for serosal tissue function in katatrepsis

Dev Biol. 2006 Apr 1;292(1):226-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2005.12.028. Epub 2006 Feb 7.


Unlike most Hox cluster genes, with their canonical role in anterior-posterior patterning of the embryo, the Hox3 orthologue of insects has diverged. Here, we investigate the zen orthologue in Oncopeltus fasciatus (Hemiptera:Heteroptera). As in other insects, the Of-zen gene is expressed extraembryonically, and RNA interference (RNAi) experiments demonstrate that it is functionally required in this domain for the proper occurrence of katatrepsis, the phase of embryonic movements by which the embryo emerges from the yolk and adjusts its orientation within the egg. After RNAi knockdown of Of-zen, katatrepsis does not occur, causing embryos to complete development inside out. However, not all aspects of expression and function are conserved compared to grasshopper, beetle, and fly orthologues. Of-zen is not expressed in the extraembryonic tissue until relatively late, suggesting it is not involved in tissue specification. Within the extraembryonic domain, Of-zen is expressed in the outer serosal membrane, but unlike orthologues, it is not detectable in the inner extraembryonic membrane, the amnion. Thus, the role of zen in the interaction of serosa, amnion, and embryo may differ between species. Of-zen is also expressed in the blastoderm, although this early expression shows no apparent correlation with defects seen by RNAi knockdown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Blastoderm / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / pathology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Heteroptera / embryology*
  • Heteroptera / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / chemistry
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA Interference
  • Serous Membrane / physiology*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Hox3 protein, insect
  • Insect Proteins