A study funded by the National Science Foundation has uncovered a set of DNA patterns that is responsible for the pattern of butterfly wings. These DNA sequences sit between genes, sometimes referred to as "non-coding" DNA. These coils of DNA become unwound in order to interact with genes. Researchers used ATAC-seq to identify where the DNA has unraveled. Researchers then used CRISPR-Cas gene editing technology to disable 46 elements one at a time, and note the changes that were caused to the wing pattern.
They hypothesize that this DNA has kept a plan of patterns for millions of years, and that it works like a switch, flipping up and down to create different patterns.
Previous work has uncovered specific genes responsible for different aspects of wing pattern. Optix controls color and iridescence, and WntA controls stripes.
Relevant Article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221021145842.htm