Aggregation chimaeras were constructed by fusing embryos homozygous for sash (Wsh) with fuzzy, leaden beige (fz, ln, bg) homozygotes to investigate the site of action of the beige and leaden loci. The genotype of the hair follicle was identified by fuzzy alleles (+ +fz or fzfz). All melanocytes were derived from the fuzzy leaden beige population, as sash homozygotes do not produce functional melanocytes. Reciprocal recombinant epidermal/ /dermal skin grafts were constructed from 14-day embryonic skin of homozygous fzln bg and either albino (aa cc) or pink-eyed dilution (pp) embryos to test for any dermal expression of leaden or beige, since the epidermal and dermal genotype of the chimaeric hair follicles could differ.
Patches of fuzzy and non-fuzzy hairs were distributed throughout the coats of two of the three chimaeras obtained. The pigmented regions were blue grey, typical of the leaden beige interactive phenotype. Large abnormal beige granules were found in fuzzy and non-fuzzy hairs. Melanocytes in both classes of growing follicles were nucleopetal, typical of leaden. Similarly, the results of the 14-day skin grafts showed that the beige and leaden loci are melanocyte-autonomous.
The chimaeras showed a pigment distribution resembling the heterozygous sash phenotype. Thus the 1:1 gene dosage of sash: wild type in heterozygotes and chimaeras has an overall effect on pigment pattern that overrides the predicted random distribution of the melanocyte precursors.