Developmental Genetics of Color Pattern Establishment in Cats [article]

Christopher B Kaelin, Kelly A McGowan, Gregory B Barsh
2020 bioRxiv   pre-print
Intricate color patterns are a defining aspect of morphological diversity in the Felidae. We applied morphological and single-cell gene expression analysis to fetal skin of domestic cats to identify when, where, and how, during fetal development, felid color patterns are established. Early in development, we identify stripe-like alterations in epidermal thickness preceded by a gene expression pre-pattern. The secreted Wnt inhibitor encoded by Dickkopf 4 (Dkk4) plays a central role in this
more » ... role in this process, and is mutated in cats with the Ticked pattern type. Our results bring molecular understanding to how the leopard got its spots, suggest that similar mechanisms underlie periodic color pattern and periodic hair follicle spacing, and identity new targets for diverse pattern variation in other mammals.
doi:10.1101/2020.11.16.385609 fatcat:nm4qpdjcjzcljjbhx34q3o7ip4