Zebrafish kit mutation reveals primary and secondary regulation of melanocyte development during fin stripe regeneration.
Fin regeneration in adult zebrafish is accompanied by re-establishment of the pigment stripes. To understand the mechanisms underlying fin stripe regeneration and regulation of normal melanocyte stripe morphology, we investigated the origins of melanocytes in the regenerating fin and their requirement for the kit receptor tyrosine kinase. Using pre-existing melanin as a lineage tracer, we show that most fin regeneration melanocytes develop from undifferentiated precursors, rather than from differentiated melanocytes. Mutational analysis reveals two distinct classes of regeneration melanocytes. First, an early regeneration class develops dependent on kit function. In the absence of kit function and kit-dependent melanocytes, a second class of melanocytes develops at later stages of regeneration. This late kit-independent class of regeneration melanocytes has little or no role in wild-type fin stripe development, thus revealing a secondary mode for regulation of fin stripes. Expression of melanocyte markers in regenerating kit mutant fins suggests that kit normally acts after mitf and before dct to promote development of the primary kit-dependent melanocytes. kit-dependent and kit-independent melanocytes are also present during fin stripe ontogeny in patterns similar to those observed during regeneration.
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