by Masafumi Inaba, Hans I-Chen Harn, Chuong Cheng-Ming
Periodic patterning represents a fundamental process in tissue morphogenesis. In chicken dorsal skin, feather formation starts from the midline; then the morphogenetic wave propagates bilaterally, leaving a regular hexagonal array of feather germs. Yet, in vitro reconstitution showed feather germs appear simultaneously, leading to the hypothesis that the feather-forming wave results from the coupling of local Turing patterning processes with an unidentified global event. In this issue, Ho and colleagues showed such a global event in chicken feathers involves a spreading Ectodysplasin A (EDA) wave and Fibroblast Growth Factor 20 (FGF20)-cell aggregate-based mechanochemical coupling. In flightless birds, feather germs form periodically but without precise hexagonal patterning due to the lack of global wave.
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