Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Zebrafish stripped of stripes

06.11.2014

Within weeks of publishing surprising new insights about how zebrafish get their stripes, the same University of Washington group is now able to explain how to "erase" them.

The findings – the first published Aug. 28 in Science and the latest in the Nov. 6 issue of Nature Communications – give new understanding about genes and cell behaviors that underlie pigment patterns in zebrafish that, in turn, could help unravel the workings of pigment cells in humans and other animals, skin disorders such as melanoma and cell regeneration.


Researchers have determined it's a certain gene that keeps pigment cells dispersed and gives the pearl danio its uniform orange color. By expressing this gene the same way in zebrafish, the zebrafish pigment cells also remained intermingled and the fish were essentially stripped of their stripes.

Credit: D Parichy Lab/U of Washington


An adult zebrafish shows distinctive stripes.

Credit: D Parichy Lab/U of Washington

"Using zebrafish as a model, we're at the point where we have a lot of the basic mechanisms, the basic phenomenology of what's going on, so we can start to look at some of these other species that have really different patterns and start to understand them," said David Parichy, a UW professor of biology and corresponding author on both papers.

Zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish about 1.5 inches long, belongs to the minnow family and is a popular addition to home aquariums. Adults have long horizontal blue stripes on their sides, hence the reference to "zebra." These patterns have roles in schooling, mate selection and avoiding predators. Given their importance, scientists have long wanted to know where these pigment cells come from and how they make stripes and other arrangements.

Unlike humans with a single pigment cell type – the amount of melanin that produces color being determined by everyone's individual genetics – there are three pigment cells that make the zebrafish pattern.

Researchers at UW and elsewhere have previously shown that all three types of pigment cells communicate with one another to organize zebrafish stripes and that two of the pigment cells – one that creates black and another silver – come from stem cells.

In the Aug. 28 issue of Science, two papers report that the cells called xanthophores that produce the color orange don't come from stem cells as had long been assumed. Instead, they come from pre-existing cells in the embryo. The UW researchers also determined the surprising process by which this occurs: cells in the embryo first mature into xanthophores and then, when it's time to make stripes, these same cells lose their color, increase in number and then turn back into xanthophores with color.

"This is remarkable because cells do not normally lose their mature properties, let alone regain them later," Parichy said. "Knowing how xanthophores achieve this feat could provide clues to regeneration of tissues and organs without the need for stem cells."

Even more remarkably, the UW authors found that the re-development of orange-producing xanthophores requires thyroid hormone, the same hormone that turns tadpoles into frogs, suggesting that xanthophores undergo their own metamorphosis. At the same time thyroid hormone blocks development of the black cells, setting the proper shade overall.

"In the last 10 to 15 years people trying to understand these patterns have concentrated on how the three pigment cell types interact with each other. We showed the tremendous dependence on thyroid hormone for the pattern that develops," Parichy said.

Lead author is Sarah McMenamin, a postdoctoral fellow in Parichy's lab. Funding for the work was provided by the National Institutes of Health, which just awarded Parichy a new $1.25 million grant to study thyroid hormone signaling in pigmentation and melanoma.

Next in the Nature Communications paper, Parichy's group reports on a gene that drives the unusually early appearance of xanthophores – independent of thyroid hormone – in another species, the pearl danio. Unlike zebrafish this species lacks stripes: its pigment cells are intermingled and arranged uniformly on the body, giving it a pearly orange color.

By expressing this gene the same way in zebrafish, the researchers caused the fish to make extra-early xanthophores and the fish produced a uniform pattern like the pearl danio instead of their usual stripes.

"Really simple changes in timing make totally different patterns," Parichy said.

This unexpected result shows that a core network of interacting cells can generate very different patterns in response to changes in timing, a discovery that could explain color pattern evolution across a variety of species. Lead author on the Nature Communications paper is postdoctoral scholar Larissa Patterson and the work was funded by the NIH.

"If you'd asked me five years ago if we're in a position to have some useful hypotheses about where patterns come from in other species, I'd have said, 'No,'" Parichy said. "But I think now we're really at the point where we understand a lot of the basics and we can start to frame testable hypotheses. We can see how much of this is just a simple difference in timing, a difference in thyroid hormone responsiveness or a difference in cellular communication itself."

Patterson and UW's Emily Bain are co-authors on both papers. Other co-authors on the Science paper are UW's Anna McCann, Dae Seok Eom, and undergraduates Zachary Waller and James Hamill, as well as Julie Kuhlman from Iowa State University and Judith Eisen of the University of Oregon.

For more information you can contact Parichy at dparichy@uw.edu or 206-734-7331.

Suggested Websites

"Thyroid hormone–dependent adult pigment cell lineage and pattern in zebrafish" Aug. 28, 2014, Science online: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6202/1358.abstract

"Pigment-cell interactions and differential xanthophores recruitment underlying zebrafish stripe reiteration and Danio pattern evolution" Scheduled for Nov. 6, 2014, Nature Communications: http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications

Parichy lab: http://faculty.washington.edu/dparichy/Index.html

Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Zebrafish difference hormone humans pigment cells stem cells thyroid hormone

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>