Distinct mechanisms underlie pattern formation in the skin and skin appendages

Randall B. Widelitz, Ruth E. Baker, Maksim Plikus, Chih Min Lin, Philip K. Maini, Ralf Paus, Cheng Ming Chuong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Patterns form with the break of homogeneity and lead to the emergence of new structure or arrangement. There are different physiological and pathological mechanisms that lead to the formation of patterns. Here, we first introduce the basics of pattern formation and their possible biological basis. We then discuss different categories of skin patterns and their potential underlying molecular mechanisms. Some patterns, such as the lines of Blaschko and Naevus, are based on cell lineage and genetic mosaicism. Other patterns, such as regionally specific skin appendages, can be set by distinct combinatorial molecular codes, which in turn may be set by morphogenetic gradients. There are also some patterns, such as the arrangement of hair follicles (hair whorls) and fingerprints, which involve genetics as well as stochastic epigenetic events based on physiochemical principles. Many appendage primordia are laid out in developmental waves. In the adult, some patterns, such as those involving cycling hair follicles, may appear as traveling waves in mice. Since skin appendages can renew themselves in regeneration, their size and shape can still change in the adult via regulation by hormones and the environment. Some lesion patterns are based on pathological changes involving the above processes and can be used as diagnostic criteria in medicine. Understanding the different mechanisms that lead to patterns in the skin will help us appreciate their full significance in morphogenesis and medical research. Much remains to be learned about complex pattern formation, if we are to bridge the gap between molecular biology and organism phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-291
Number of pages12
JournalBirth Defects Research Part C - Embryo Today: Reviews
Volume78
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Skin
Hair Follicle
Mosaicism
Nevus
Dermatoglyphics
Cell Lineage
Morphogenesis
Epigenomics
Hair
Biomedical Research
Regeneration
Molecular Biology
Medicine
Hormones
Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology

Cite this

Distinct mechanisms underlie pattern formation in the skin and skin appendages. / Widelitz, Randall B.; Baker, Ruth E.; Plikus, Maksim; Lin, Chih Min; Maini, Philip K.; Paus, Ralf; Chuong, Cheng Ming.

In: Birth Defects Research Part C - Embryo Today: Reviews, Vol. 78, No. 3, 01.09.2006, p. 280-291.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Widelitz, Randall B. ; Baker, Ruth E. ; Plikus, Maksim ; Lin, Chih Min ; Maini, Philip K. ; Paus, Ralf ; Chuong, Cheng Ming. / Distinct mechanisms underlie pattern formation in the skin and skin appendages. In: Birth Defects Research Part C - Embryo Today: Reviews. 2006 ; Vol. 78, No. 3. pp. 280-291.
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