An epigenetic model for pigment patterning based on mechanical and cellular interactions


This publication doesn't include Faculty of Medicine. It includes Central European Institute of Technology. Official publication website can be found on


Year of publication 2012
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
MU Faculty or unit

Central European Institute of Technology

Web Full Text
Field Genetics and molecular biology
Keywords pigment patterning; mechanical fields; epigenetics
Description Pigment patterning in animals generally occurs during early developmental stages and has ecological, physiological, ethological, and evolutionary significance. Despite the relative simplicity of color patterns, their emergence depends upon multilevel complex processes. Thus, theoretical models have become necessary tools to further understand how such patterns emerge. Recent studies have reevaluated the importance of epigenetic, as well as genetic factors in developmental pattern formation. Yet epigenetic phenomena, specially those related to physical constraints that might be involved in the emergence of color patterns, have not been fully studied. In this article, we propose a model of color patterning in which epigenetic aspects such as cell migration, celltissue interactions, and physical and mechanical phenomena are central. This model considers that motile cells embedded in a fibrous, viscoelastic matrixmesenchymecan deform it in such a way that tension tracks are formed. We postulate that these tracks act, in turn, as guides for subsequent cell migration and establishment, generating long-range phenomenological interactions. We aim to describe some general aspects of this developmental phenomenon with a rather simple mathematical model. Then we discuss our model in the context of available experimental and morphological evidence for reptiles, amphibians, and fishes, and compare it with other patterning models. We also put forward novel testable predictions derived from our model, regarding, for instance, the localization of the postulated tension tracks, and we propose new experiments. Finally, we discuss how the proposed mechanism could constitute a dynamic patterning module accounting for pattern formation in many animal lineages
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info