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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;994:319-30.

Sequence characterization of teleost fish melanocortin receptors.

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MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, United Kingdom.


Zebrafish are an excellent model system for studying the function of melanocortins in developmental and physiological processes, not least because there are a considerable number of mutant lines in which pigment patterns are affected. The behavior of fish melanophores is influenced by alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) and melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH). We have used a rapid assay for alpha-MSH and MCH function using melanophores present on single zebrafish scales. By in silico analysis, we have identified the full complement of melanocortin receptors in both zebrafish and the pufferfish, FUGU: Mammals have five such receptors. Zebrafish have six melanocortin receptors, including two MC5R orthologues, whereas Fugu, lacking MC3R, has only four. We have confirmed the sequences of these 10 genes and show the comparison of the amino acid sequences of the encoded proteins with the orthologous receptor in other vertebrates.

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