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Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2015 Mar;28(2):196-209. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12335. Epub 2014 Dec 22.

Pigment patterns in adult fish result from superimposition of two largely independent pigmentation mechanisms.

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Aquatic Molecular Pathobiology Group, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Vigo, Spain.


Dorso-ventral pigment pattern differences are the most widespread pigmentary adaptations in vertebrates. In mammals, this pattern is controlled by regulating melanin chemistry in melanocytes using a protein, agouti-signalling peptide (ASIP). In fish, studies of pigment patterning have focused on stripe formation, identifying a core striping mechanism dependent upon interactions between different pigment cell types. In contrast, mechanisms driving the dorso-ventral countershading pattern have been overlooked. Here, we demonstrate that, in fact, zebrafish utilize two distinct adult pigment patterning mechanisms - an ancient dorso-ventral patterning mechanism, and a more recent striping mechanism based on cell-cell interactions; remarkably, the dorso-ventral patterning mechanism also utilizes ASIP. These two mechanisms function largely independently, with resultant patterns superimposed to give the full pattern.


agouti; asip1; chromatophore; dct; iridophore; ltk; melanocyte; melanophore; mitfa; pigment pattern formation; transgenic; tyrp1b; xdh; zebrafish

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