Tetraspanin 3c requirement for pigment cell interactions and boundary formation in zebrafish adult pigment stripes



Skin pigment pattern formation in zebrafish requires pigment-cell autonomous interactions between melanophores and xanthophores, yet the molecular bases for these interactions remain largely unknown. Here, we examined the dali mutant that exhibits stripes in which melanophores are intermingled abnormally with xanthophores. By in vitro cell culture, we found that melanophores of dali mutants have a defect in motility and that interactions between melanophores and xanthophores are defective as well. Positional cloning and rescue identified dali as tetraspanin 3c (tspan3c), encoding a transmembrane scaffolding protein expressed by melanophores and xanthophores. We further showed that dali mutant Tspan3c expressed in HeLa cell exhibits a defect in N-glycosylation and is retained inappropriately in the endoplasmic reticulum. Our results are the first to identify roles for a tetraspanin superfamily protein in skin pigment pattern formation and suggest new mechanisms for the establishment and maintenance of zebrafish stripe boundaries.