Ocular-Side Lateralization of Adult-Type Chromatophore Precursors: Development of Pigment Asymmetry in Metamorphosing Flounder Larvae


Correspondence to: Tohru Suzuki, Laboratory of Marine Life Science and Genetics, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 981-8555, Japan.

E-mail: suzukitr@bios.tohoku.ac.jp


The adult-type chromatophores of flounder differentiate at metamorphosis in the skin of ocular side to establish asymmetric pigmentation. In young larva and before metamorphosis, adult-type melanophores that migrate to the ocular side during metamorphosis reside at the base of the dorsal fin as latent precursors. However, the migration route taken by these precursor cells and the mechanisms by which lateralization and asymmetric pigmentation develop on the ocular side are unknown. To further investigate this migration and lateralization, we used in situ hybridization with gch2 probe, a marker for melanoblasts and xanthoblasts (precursors of adult type chromatophores), to examine the distribution of chromatophore precursors in metamorphosing larvae. The gch2-positive precursors were present in the myoseptum as well as in the skin. This finding indicated that these precursors migrated from the dorsal part of the fin to the skin via the myoseptum. Additionally, there were much fewer gch2-positive cells in the myoseptum of the blind side than in the skin and myoseptum of the ocular side, and this finding indicated either that migration of the precursor cells into the myoseptum of blind side was inhibited or that the precursors were eliminated from the myoseptum of the blind side. Therefore, we propose that the signals responsible for development of asymmetric pigmentation in flounder reside not only in the skin but on a larger scale and in multiple tissues throughout the lateral half of the trunk. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 320B:151–165, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.