The tabby cat is one of the most common in the world. With its coat in colors similar to those of wild cats. But researchers did not know until then where he got his stripes. Today, they finally put forward an explanation.
Cats, there are many. With very varied coat patterns. The mechanism that controls the distribution of these colors has long been of interest to researchers. They already knew that these multiple colors are given by different types of pigments, black, brown, yellow or red. But the base mechanism still escaped them … until today. A team of (United States) succeeded in identifying the that regulate the establishment of patterns on the coat of .
The researchers worked on nearly a thousand fetal tissues at different stages of their development. Fromcollected during . They discovered scratch-like alterations in the thickness of the tissue early in fetal development. It seems that even before the hair follicles and pigments come into play, the cells are predestined to receive a specific fur color.
The same mechanism in wild animals?
By analyzing the expressionindividual fetal cells from cat skins, the researchers then determined that the embryonic differences in the expression of DKK4 caused variations in the shape and color of the fur patterns. The cells which express this gene end up the darkest on cats’ coats. And the colors it ultimately takes are then determined by mutations or alterations in the .
The discovery could help unravel the secret of the patterns that appear on the furs of other animals such as tigers and leopards. “Might”, because as the domestic cat has undergone selective breeding over generations, it is not certain that the same molecular processes account for the color variations in.