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Nature. 2014 Jul 3;511(7507):41-5. doi: 10.1038/nature13496. Epub 2014 Jun 18.

Patterning and post-patterning modes of evolutionary digit loss in mammals.

Author information

1
1] Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA [2] Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA. [3].
2
1] Department of Animal Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA [2].
3
1] Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA [2].
4
Department of Animal Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
5
cole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 69007 Lyon, France.
6
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.
7
The Camel Reproduction Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
8
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

Abstract

A reduction in the number of digits has evolved many times in tetrapods, particularly in cursorial mammals that travel over deserts and plains, yet the underlying developmental mechanisms have remained elusive. Here we show that digit loss can occur both during early limb patterning and at later post-patterning stages of chondrogenesis. In the 'odd-toed' jerboa (Dipus sagitta) and horse and the 'even-toed' camel, extensive cell death sculpts the tissue around the remaining toes. In contrast, digit loss in the pig is orchestrated by earlier limb patterning mechanisms including downregulation of Ptch1 expression but no increase in cell death. Together these data demonstrate remarkable plasticity in the mechanisms of vertebrate limb evolution and shed light on the complexity of morphological convergence, particularly within the artiodactyl lineage.

PMID:
24990742
PMCID:
PMC4228958
DOI:
10.1038/nature13496
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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