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Journal of Experimental Biology

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Phenotypic plasticity, Evolutionary developmental biology, Fundulidae


Annual killifishes exhibit a number of unique life history characters including the occurrence of embryonic diapause, unique cell movements associated with dispersion and subsequent reaggregation of the embryonic blastomeres, and a short postembryonic life span. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling is known to play a role in the regulation of metabolic dormancy in a number of animals but has not been explored in annual killifishes. The abundance of IGF proteins during development and the developmental effects of blocking IGF signaling by pharmacological inhibition of the insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF1R) were explored in embryos of the annual killifish Austrofundulus limnaeus. Blocking of IGF signaling in embryos that would normally escape entrance into diapause resulted in a phenotype that was remarkably similar to that of embryos entering diapause. IGF-I protein abundance spikes during early development in embryos that will not enter diapause. In contrast, IGF-I levels remain low during early development in embryos that will enter diapause II. IGF-II protein is packaged at higher levels in escape-bound embryos compared with diapause-bound embryos. However, IGF-II levels quickly decrease and remain low during early development and only increase substantially during late development in both developmental trajectories. Developmental patterns of IGF-I and IGF-II protein abundance under conditions that would either induce or bypass entrance into diapause are consistent with a role for IGF signaling in the regulation of developmental trajectory and entrance into diapause in this species. We propose that IGF signaling may be a unifying regulatory pathway that explains the larger suite of characters that are associated with the complex life history of annual killifishes.


Copyright 2017. This is the author manuscript of an article published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. The final version is available here.



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