Variation in regional identity, patterning, and structure of epidermal appendages contributes to skin diversity among many vertebrate groups, and is perhaps most striking in birds. In pioneering work on epidermal appendage patterning, John Saunders and his contemporaries took advantage of epidermal appendage diversity within and among domestic chicken breeds to establish the importance of mesoderm-ectoderm signaling in determining skin patterning. Diversity in chickens and other domestic birds, including pigeons, is driving a new wave of research to dissect the molecular genetic basis of epidermal appendage patterning. Domestic birds are not only outstanding models for embryonic manipulations, as Saunders recognized, but they are also ideal genetic models for discovering the specific genes that control normal development and the mutations that contribute to skin diversity. Here, we review recent genetic and genomic approaches to uncover the basis of epidermal macropatterning, micropatterning, and structural variation. We also present new results that confirm expression changes in two limb identity genes in feather-footed pigeons, a case of variation in appendage structure and identity.
Boer, E. F., Van Hollebeke, H. F., & Shapiro, M. D. (2017, September 15). Genomic determinants of epidermal appendage patterning and structure in domestic birds. Developmental Biology. Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.03.022