Data from: Distal-less activates butterfly eyespots consistent with a reaction diffusion process
Connahs, Heidi et al. (2019), Data from: Distal-less activates butterfly eyespots consistent with a reaction diffusion process, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2108pm6
Eyespots on the wings of nymphalid butterflies represent colorful examples of pattern formation, yet the developmental origins and mechanisms underlying eyespot center differentiation are still poorly understood. Using CRISPR-Cas9 we re-examine the function of Distal-less (Dll) as an activator or repressor of eyespots, a topic that remains controversial. We show that the phenotypic outcome of CRISPR mutations depends upon which specific exon is targeted. In Bicyclus anynana, exon 2 mutations are associated with both missing and ectopic eyespots and also exon-skipping. Exon 3 mutations, which do not lead to exon-skipping, produce only null phenotypes including missing eyespots, lighter wing coloration and loss of scales. Reaction-diffusion modeling of Dll function, using Wnt and Dpp as candidate morphogens, accurately replicates these complex crispant phenotypes. These results provide new insight into the function of Dll as a potential activator of eyespot development, scale growth, and melanization, and suggest that the tuning of Dll expression levels can generate a diversity of eyespot phenotypes, including their appearance on the wing.