Japanese flounder are left-right asymmetrical, with features, such as dark, ocular-side specific pigmentation. This pigmentation arises during metamorphic stages, along with the asymmetric differentiation of adult-type chromatophores. Additionally, among juveniles, tank-reared specimens commonly show ectopic pigmentation on their blind sides. In both cases, neural crest-derived Sox10-positive progenitor cells at the dorsal fin base are hypothesized to contribute to chromatophore development. Here, we developed a method to visualize Sox10-positive cells via green fluorescent protein (GFP) fluorescence to directly monitor their migration and differentiation into chromatophores in vivo. Electroporation was applied to introduce GFP reporter vectors into the dorsal fin base of larvae and juveniles. Cre-loxP system vectors were also tested to enable cell labeling even after a decrease in sox10 expression levels. In larvae, undifferentiated Sox10-positive progenitor cells were labeled in the dorsal fin base, whereas newly differentiated adult-type chromatophores were seen dispersed on the ocular side. In juveniles, Sox10-positive cells were identified in the connective tissue of the dorsal fin base and observed prominently in areas of ectopic pigmentation, including several labeled melanophores. Thus, it was suggested that during metamorphic stages, Sox10-positive cells at the dorsal fin base contribute to adult-type chromatophore development, whereas in juveniles, they persist as precursors in the connective tissue, which in response to stimuli migrate to generate ectopic pigmentation. These findings contribute to elucidating pigmentation mechanisms, as well as abnormalities seen in hatchery-reared flounders. The electroporation method may be adapted to diverse animals as an accessible gene transfer method in various research fields, including developmental and biomedical studies.
Cre-loxP; Sox10; asymmetry; chromatophore; electroporation; flounder.