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Morphogen-based simulation model of ray growth and joint patterning during fin development and regeneration
Anne-Gaëlle Rolland-Lagan, Mathieu Paquette, Valerie Tweedle, Marie-Andrée Akimenko


The fact that some organisms are able to regenerate organs of the correct shape and size following amputation is particularly fascinating, but the mechanism by which this occurs remains poorly understood. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) caudal fin has emerged as a model system for the study of bone development and regeneration. The fin comprises 16 to 18 bony rays, each containing multiple joints along its proximodistal axis that give rise to segments. Experimental observations on fin ray growth, regeneration and joint formation have been described, but no unified theory has yet been put forward to explain how growth and joint patterns are controlled. We present a model for the control of fin ray growth during development and regeneration, integrated with a model for joint pattern formation, which is in agreement with published, as well as new, experimental data. We propose that fin ray growth and joint patterning are coordinated through the interaction of three morphogens. When the model is extended to incorporate multiple rays across the fin, it also accounts for how the caudal fin acquires its shape during development, and regains its correct size and shape following amputation.

  • Accepted January 6, 2012.
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