The orderly pigment pattern of zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a good model system for studying how spatial patterns form in animals. Recent molecular genetic studies have shown that interactions between the pigment cells play major roles in pattern formation. In the present study, we performed comparative transmission electron microscopy of pigment cells, in order to clarify the structural interactions of pigment cells in tissues with and without a striped pattern. In patterned tissues, pigment cells were distributed as a one-cell-thick sheet. The layer order of the sheets is always kept strictly. In tissues without a striped pattern, the layer order was often disturbed or the cells were distributed in a scattered, double-sheeted, or an accumulated pile. Our observations suggest that the underlying mechanism that controls the vertical order of the pigment cells is related to that controlling the stripe pattern.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.