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Ectothermal reptiles have internal pigmentation, which is not seen in endothermal birds and mammals. Here we show that the development of the dorsal neural tube-derived melanoblasts in turtle Trachemys scripta is regulated by similar mechanisms as in other amniotes, but significantly later in development, during the second phase of turtle trunk neural crest emigration. The development of melanoblasts coincided with a morphological change in the dorsal neural tube between stages mature G15 and G16. The melanoblasts delaminated and gathered in the carapacial staging area above the neural tube at G16, and differentiated into pigment-forming melanocytes during in vitro culture. The Mitf-positive melanoblasts were not restricted to the dorsolateral pathway as in birds and mammals but were also present medially through the somites similarly to ectothermal anamniotes. This matched a lack of environmental barrier dorsal and lateral to neural tube and the somites that is normally formed by PNA-binding proteins that block entry to medial pathways. PNA-binding proteins may also participate in the patterning of the carapacial pigmentation as both the migratory neural crest cells and pigment localized only to PNA-free areas.


Differentiation, Evolutionary developmental biology

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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