Developmental mechanisms of stripe patterns in rodents.

TitleDevelopmental mechanisms of stripe patterns in rodents.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMallarino, R, Henegar, C, Mirasierra, M, Manceau, M, Schradin, C, Vallejo, M, Beronja, S, Barsh, GS, Hoekstra, HE
JournalNature
Volume539
Issue7630
Pagination518-523
Date Published2016 11 24
ISSN1476-4687
KeywordsAnimals, Biological Evolution, Body Patterning, Cell Differentiation, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Hair Color, Homeodomain Proteins, Melanins, Melanocytes, Mice, Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor, Murinae, Phenotype, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Sciuridae, Skin
Abstract

Mammalian colour patterns are among the most recognizable characteristics found in nature and can have a profound impact on fitness. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the formation and subsequent evolution of these patterns. Here we show that, in the African striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio), periodic dorsal stripes result from underlying differences in melanocyte maturation, which give rise to spatial variation in hair colour. We identify the transcription factor ALX3 as a regulator of this process. In embryonic dorsal skin, patterned expression of Alx3 precedes pigment stripes and acts to directly repress Mitf, a master regulator of melanocyte differentiation, thereby giving rise to light-coloured hair. Moreover, Alx3 is upregulated in the light stripes of chipmunks, which have independently evolved a similar dorsal pattern. Our results show a previously undescribed mechanism for modulating spatial variation in hair colour and provide insights into how phenotypic novelty evolves.

DOI10.1038/nature20109
Alternate JournalNature
PubMed ID27806375
PubMed Central IDPMC5292240
Grant ListR00 AR061469 / AR / NIAMS NIH HHS / United States
R01 AR067925 / AR / NIAMS NIH HHS / United States