European Journal of Dermatology


Dinosaur’s feather and chicken’s tooth? Tissue engineering of the integument Volume 11, issue 4, July - August 2001


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Department of Pathology, Univ. Southern California, USA.

The integument forms the interface between animals and the environment. During evolution, diverse integument and integument appendages have evolved to adapt animals to different niches. The formation of these different integument forms is based on the acquisition of novel developmental mechanisms. This is the way Nature does her tissue/organ engineering and experiments. To do tissue engineering of the integument in the new century for medical applications, we need to learn more principles from developmental and evolutionary studies. A novel diagram showing the evolution and development of integument complexity is presented, and the molecular pathways involved discussed. We then discuss two examples in which the gain and loss of appendages are modulated: transformation of avian scale epidermis into feathers with mutated beta catenin, and induction of chicken tooth like appendages with FGF, BMP and feather mesenchyme.