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Disappearing scales in carps: Re-visiting Kirpichnikov's model on the genetics of scale pattern formation

Casas, L., Szűcs, R., Vij, S., Goh, C.H., Kathiresan, P., Németh, S., Jeney, Z., Bercsényi, M. and Orbán, L. (2013) Disappearing scales in carps: Re-visiting Kirpichnikov's model on the genetics of scale pattern formation. PloS one, 8 (12).

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The body of most fishes is fully covered by scales that typically form tight, partially overlapping rows. While some of the genes controlling the formation and growth of fish scales have been studied, very little is known about the genetic mechanisms regulating scale pattern formation. Although the existence of two genes with two pairs of alleles (S&s and N&n) regulating scale coverage in cyprinids has been predicted by Kirpichnikov and colleagues nearly eighty years ago, their identity was unknown until recently. In 2009, the ‘S’ gene was found to be a paralog of fibroblast growth factor receptor 1, fgfr1a1, while the second gene called ‘N’ has not yet been identified. We re-visited the original model of Kirpichnikov that proposed four major scale pattern types and observed a high degree of variation within the so-called scattered phenotype due to which this group was divided into two sub-types: classical mirror and irregular. We also analyzed the survival rates of offspring groups and found a distinct difference between Asian and European crosses. Whereas nude × nude crosses involving at least one parent of Asian origin or hybrid with Asian parent(s) showed the 25% early lethality predicted by Kirpichnikov (due to the lethality of the NN genotype), those with two Hungarian nude parents did not. We further extended Kirpichnikov's work by correlating changes in phenotype (scale-pattern) to the deformations of fins and losses of pharyngeal teeth. We observed phenotypic changes which were not restricted to nudes, as described by Kirpichnikov, but were also present in mirrors (and presumably in linears as well; not analyzed in detail here). We propose that the gradation of phenotypes observed within the scattered group is caused by a gradually decreasing level of signaling (a dose-dependent effect) probably due to a concerted action of multiple pathways involved in scale formation.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2013 Casas et al.
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