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It has been suggested that the Turing reaction-diffusion model on a growing domain is applicable during limb development, but experimental evidence for this hypothesis has been lacking. In the present study, we found that in Doublefoot mutant mice, which have supernumerary digits due to overexpansion of the limb bud, thin digits exist in the proximal part of the hand or foot, which sometimes become normal abruptly at the distal part. We found that exactly the same behaviour can be reproduced by numerical simulation of the simplest possible Turing reaction-diffusion model on a growing domain. We analytically showed that this pattern is related to the saturation of activator kinetics in the model. Furthermore, we showed that a number of experimentally observed phenomena in this system can be explained within the context of a Turing reaction-diffusion model. Finally, we make some experimentally testable predictions.

Original publication




Journal article


J Theor Biol

Publication Date





562 - 573


Animals, Body Patterning, Extremities, Limb Buds, Limb Deformities, Congenital, Mice, Mice, Mutant Strains, Models, Biological