Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Genes that are Behind Cat's Spots & Stripes

Cats have spots and stripes all over their body on their fur. Do you ever wonder how it gets there? Researchers have found a specific gene that all domestic and wild big cat species develop spots and stripes. The gene that was responsible for this is the DKK4 gene which is found to be active in thick skin as opposed to thinner skin. It was found to be known for fur with a blur of colors which is a mutation from the DKK4 gene. The all-white and all-black cats have patterns underneath their fur. However, the pigment lacks in white cats as opposed to other solid-colored cats because the pattern is overridden by instructions to produce one color. The WNTs protein is also essential because it works closely with DKK4 to form a prepattern that is 2 to 3 millimeters long. The color differences that control the coat color variation are also similar to the gene that's responsible in cheetahs and thicker, more prominent fur patterns. Other than the WNTs protein and DDK gene, there are more unknown genes that are behind why some cats have spots and why some cats have stripes. 


  1. That is very fascinating to see why cats have these spots. What interested me the most is why the gene DKK4 only works on thick skin and not on thinner skin. I would like to know more of the biochemistry of why the gene favors thicker skin. Maybe thicker skin makes the colors more vivid and bold in contrast to thinner skin? I also found it interesting that the gene is inhibited by another gene that instructs a protein to produce only one color.

  2. Interesting article, having cats I always wondered why their fur would vary so much in color, striping, etc. I am curious what the role of thick vs. thin skin plays in the gene of DKK4 and why is it active in the thick skin and not the thin.