Zebrafish sparse corresponds to an orthologue of c-kit and is required for the morphogenesis of a subpopulation of melanocytes, but is not essential for hematopoiesis or primordial germ cell development.
The relative roles of the Kit receptor in promoting the migration and survival of amniote melanocytes are unresolved. We show that, in the zebrafish, Danio rerio, the pigment pattern mutation sparse corresponds to an orthologue of c-kit. This finding allows us to further elucidate morphogenetic roles for this c-kit-related gene in melanocyte morphogenesis. Our analyses of zebrafish melanocyte development demonstrate that the c-kit orthologue identified in this study is required both for normal migration and for survival of embryonic melanocytes. We also find that, in contrast to mouse, the zebrafish c-kit gene that we have identified is not essential for hematopoiesis or primordial germ cell development. These unexpected differences may reflect evolutionary divergence in c-kit functions following gene duplication events in teleosts.
Parichy, DM; Rawls, JF; Pratt, SJ; Whitfield, TT; Johnson, SL
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