Mechanism of pectoral fin outgrowth in zebrafish development

Tohru Yano, Gembu Abe, Hitoshi Yokoyama, Koichi Kawakami, Koji Tamura

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    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Fins and limbs, which are considered to be homologous paired vertebrate appendages, have obvious morphological differences that arise during development. One major difference in their development is that the AER (apical ectodermal ridge), which organizes fin/limb development, transitions into a different, elongated organizing structure in the fin bud, the AF (apical fold). Although the role of AER in limb development has been clarified in many studies, little is known about the role of AF in fin development. Here, we investigated AF-driven morphogenesis in the pectoral fin of zebrafish. After the AER-AF transition at ~36 hours post-fertilization, the AF was identifiable distal to the circumferential blood vessel of the fin bud. Moreover, the AF was divisible into two regions: the proximal AF (pAF) and the distal AF (dAF). Removing the AF caused the AER and a new AF to re-form. Interestingly, repeatedly removing the AF led to excessive elongation of the fin mesenchyme, suggesting that prolonged exposure to AER signals results in elongation of mesenchyme region for endoskeleton. Removal of the dAF affected outgrowth of the pAF region, suggesting that dAF signals act on the pAF. We also found that the elongation of the AF was caused by morphological changes in ectodermal cells. Our results suggest that the timing of the AER-AF transition mediates the differences between fins and limbs, and that the acquisition of a mechanism to maintain the AER was a crucial evolutionary step in the development of tetrapod limbs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2916-2925
    Number of pages10
    JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug 15


    • Evolution
    • Fin development
    • Fin-to-limb
    • Zebrafish

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Developmental Biology


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