Frohnhöfer, H.G., Krauss, J., Maischein, H.M., and Nüsslein-Volhard, C. (2013) Iridophores and their interactions with other chromatophores are required for stripe formation in zebrafish. Development (Cambridge, England). 140(14):2997-3007.
Colour patterns of adult fish are produced by several types of pigment cells that distribute in the dermis during juvenile
development. The zebrafish, Danio rerio, displays a striking pattern of dark stripes of melanophores interspersed by light stripes of xanthophores. Mutants lacking
either cell type do not form proper stripes, indicating that interactions between these two chromatophore types are required
for stripe formation. A third cell type, silvery iridophores, participates to render a shiny appearance to the pattern, but
its role in stripe formation has been unclear. Mutations in rose (rse) or shady (shd) cause a lack or strong reduction of iridophores in adult fish; in addition, the melanophore number is drastically reduced
and stripes are broken up into spots. We show that rse and shd are autonomously required in iridophores, as mutant melanophores form normal sized stripes when confronted with wild-type
iridophores in chimeric animals. We describe stripe formation in mutants missing one or two of the three chromatophore types.
None of the chromatophore types alone is able to create a pattern but residual stripe formation occurs with two cell types.
Our analysis shows that iridophores promote and sustain melanophores. Furthermore, iridophores attract xanthophores, whereas
xanthophores repel melanophores. We present a model for the interactions between the three chromatophore types underlying
stripe formation. Stripe formation is initiated by iridophores appearing at the horizontal myoseptum, which serves as a morphological
landmark for stripe orientation, but is subsequently a self-organising process.