Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jun 11;660(1):103-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.11.040. Epub 2011 Jan 1.

Melanocortin MC₁ receptor in human genetics and model systems.

Author information

  • 1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia.


The melanocortin MC(1) receptor is a G-protein coupled receptor expressed in the melanocytes of the skin and hair and is known for its key role in the regulation of human pigmentation. Melanocortin MC(1) receptor activation after ultraviolet radiation exposure results in a switch from the red/yellow pheomelanin to the brown/black eumelanin pigment synthesis within cutaneous melanocytes; this pigment is then transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes of the skin. The increase in melanin maturation and uptake results in tanning of the skin, providing a physical protection of skin cells from ultraviolet radiation induced DNA damage. Melanocortin MC(1) receptor polymorphism is widespread within the Caucasian population and some variant alleles are associated with red hair colour, fair skin, poor tanning and increased risk of skin cancer. Here we will discuss the use of mouse coat colour models, human genetic association studies, and in vitro cell culture studies to determine the complex functions of the melanocortin MC(1) receptor and the molecular mechanisms underlying the association between melanocortin MC(1) receptor variant alleles and the red hair colour phenotype. Recent research indicates that melanocortin MC(1) receptor has many non-pigmentary functions, and that the increased risk of skin cancer conferred by melanocortin MC(1) receptor variant alleles is to some extent independent of pigmentation phenotypes. The use of new transgenic mouse models, the study of novel melanocortin MC(1) receptor response genes and the use of more advanced human skin models such as 3D skin reconstruction may provide key elements in understanding the pharmacogenetics of human melanocortin MC(1) receptor polymorphism.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk