Reconciling diverse mammalian pigmentation patterns with a fundamental mathematical model

Mort, Richard L. and Ross, Robert J. H. and Hainey, Kirsten J. and Harrison, Olivia J. and Keighren, Margaret A. and Landini, Gabriel and Baker, Ruth E. and Painter, Kevin J. and Jackson, Ian J. and Yates, Christian A. (2016) Reconciling diverse mammalian pigmentation patterns with a fundamental mathematical model. Nature Communications, 7. ISSN 2041-1723

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Bands of colour extending laterally from the dorsal to ventral trunk are a common feature of mouse chimeras. These stripes were originally taken as evidence of the directed dorsoventral migration of melanoblasts (the embryonic precursors of melanocytes) as they colonize the developing skin. Depigmented 'belly spots' in mice with mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinase Kit are thought to represent a failure of this colonization, either due to impaired migration or proliferation. Tracing of single melanoblast clones, however, has revealed a diffuse distribution with high levels of axial mixing--hard to reconcile with directed migration. Here we construct an agent-based stochastic model calibrated by experimental measurements to investigate the formation of diffuse clones, chimeric stripes and belly spots. Our observations indicate that melanoblast colonization likely proceeds through a process of undirected migration, proliferation and tissue expansion, and that reduced proliferation is the cause of the belly spots in Kit mutants.

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Journal Article
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Nature Communications
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20 Jan 2017 13:48
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 04:19