Background: Regional specificity allows different skin regions to exhibit different characteristics, enabling complementary functions to make effective use of the integumentary surface. Chickens exhibit a high degree of regional specificity in the skin and can serve as a good model for when and how these regional differences begin to emerge. Results: We used developing feather and scale regions in embryonic chickens as a model to gauge the differences in their molecular pathways. We employed cosine similarity analysis to identify the differentially regulated and co-regulated genes. We applied low cell techniques for expression validation and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-based enhancer identification to overcome limited cell availabilities from embryonic chicken skin. Conclusion: We demonstrated the applicability of cosine similarity analysis for identifying novel regulatory pathways that are differentially regulated during development. Our study concerning the effects of signaling pathways and histone signatures on enhancers suggests that voltage-gated calcium signaling may be involved in early skin development. This work lays the foundation for studying the roles of these gene pathways and their genomic regulation during the establishment of skin regional specificity.
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