A dot-stripe Turing model of joint patterning in the tetrapod limb

Jake Cornwall Scoones, Tom W Hiscock* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Iterative joints are a hallmark of the tetrapod limb, and their positioning is a key step during limb development. Although the molecular regulation of joint formation is well studied, it remains unclear what controls the location, number and orientation (i.e. the pattern) of joints within each digit. Here, we propose the dot-stripe mechanism for joint patterning, comprising two coupled Turing systems inspired by published gene expression patterns. Our model can explain normal joint morphology in wild-type limbs, hyperphalangy in cetacean flippers, mutant phenotypes with misoriented joints and suggests a reinterpretation of the polydactylous Ichthyosaur fins as a polygonal joint lattice. By formulating a generic dot-stripe model, describing joint patterns rather than molecular joint markers, we demonstrate that the insights from the model should apply regardless of the biological specifics of the underlying mechanism, thus providing a unifying framework to interrogate joint patterning in the tetrapod limb.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdev183699
Issue number8
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2020



  • limb patterning
  • mathematical modelling
  • Turing patterns
  • Limb patterning
  • Mathematical modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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