Genetics of scapula and pelvis development: An evolutionary perspective


Young M, Selleri L, Capellini TD. Genetics of scapula and pelvis development: An evolutionary perspective. Curr Top Dev Biol [Internet]. 2019;132 :311-349.

Date Published:



In tetrapods, the scapular and pelvic girdles perform the important function of anchoring the limbs to the trunk of the body and facilitating the movement of each appendage. This shared function, however, is one of relatively few similarities between the scapula and pelvis, which have significantly different morphologies, evolutionary histories, embryonic origins, and underlying genetic pathways. The scapula evolved in jawless fish prior to the pelvis, and its embryonic development is unique among bones in that it is derived from multiple progenitor cell populations, including the dermomyotome, somatopleure, and neural crest. Conversely, the pelvis evolved several million years later in jawed fish, and it develops from an embryonic somatopleuric cell population. The genetic networks controlling the formation of the pelvis and scapula also share similarities and differences, with a number of genes shaping only one or the other, while other gene products such as PBX transcription factors act as hierarchical developmental regulators of both girdle structures. Here, we provide a detailed review of the cellular processes and genetic networks underlying pelvis and scapula formation in tetrapods, while also highlighting unanswered questions about girdle evolution and development.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 07/09/2019