Skin pigment pattern formation is a paradigmatic example of pattern formation. In zebrafish, the adult body stripes are generated by coordinated rearrangement of three distinct pigment cell-types, black melanocytes, shiny iridophores and yellow xanthophores. A stem cell origin of melanocytes and iridophores has been proposed although the potency of those stem cells has remained unclear. Xanthophores, however, seemed to originate predominantly from proliferation of embryonic xanthophores. Now, data from Singh et al. shows that all three cell-types derive from shared stem cells, and that these cells generate peripheral neural cell-types too. Furthermore, clonal compositions are best explained by a progressive fate restriction model generating the individual cell-types. The numbers of adult pigment stem cells associated with the dorsal root ganglia remain low, but progenitor numbers increase significantly during larval development up to metamorphosis, likely via production of partially restricted progenitors on the spinal nerves.
- multipotent stem cell