Editors' ChoiceDevelopmental Biology

Origin of Fish Pigment Cell for Pattern

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Sci. Signal.  16 Sep 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 343, pp. ec256
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005896

Zebrafish stripes arise from the interactions of pigment cells: black melanophores, iridescent iridophores, and yellow-orange xanthophores. Melanophores and iridophores develop from nerve-associated stem cells, but the origin of xanthophores is unclear. Two studies now reveal that adult xanthophores originate from xanthophores in embryonic and larval fish, when they proliferate to cover the skin before the arrival of black and silver cells in a striped arrangement. Mahalwar et al. show that xanthophores change their final shape and color depending on their location. In black cells, xanthophores appear faint and stellate, but in silver cells, they are bright and compact. Precise superposition creates the blue and golden colors. McMenamin et al. observe the loss of pigment in embryonic xanthophores and the later reappearance in the adult. They show that redifferentiation depends on the thyroid hormone that also limits melanophore population expansion.

S. K. McMenamin, E. J. Bain, A. E. McCann, L. B. Patterson, D. S. Eom, Z. P. Waller, J. C. Hamill, J. A. Kuhlman, J. S. Eisen, D. M. Parichy, Thyroid hormone–dependent adult pigment cell lineage and pattern in zebrafish. Science 345, 1358–1361 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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