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Pigment Cell Res. 1992;Suppl 2:90-5.

Identification of mutations in the pigment cell-specific gene located at the brown locus in mouse.

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Department of Applied Physiology and Molecular Biology, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.


The pigment cell-specific gene, located at the brown (b)-locus in mouse, encodes the protein that determines the type of melanin synthesized. This protein is known as tyrosinase-related protein, but here we tentatively term it b-locus protein to avoid confusions with the related sequence cross-hybridizing to the tyrosinase gene. In order to identify the mutation at the b-locus, we have cloned and characterized the b-locus protein gene of BALB/c mouse (b/b, c/c). The gene is about 18 kb long and organized into 8 exons and 7 introns. Sequence analysis of the b-locus protein gene reveals four base changes within the protein-coding regions: two missense mutations and two silent mutations. Two missense mutations result in the Cys to Tyr substitution at position 86 (codon 110) and the Arg to His substitution at position 302 (codon 326) of a b-locus protein molecule. Using allele-specific amplification, we confirmed that these missense mutations are actually present in the genomic DNA of two b-mutant strains examined, BALB/c and DBA/2 (b/b, C/C) mice, suggesting that these mutations are specific for the mutant mice at the b-locus. Moreover, we are able to show that the b-locus protein containing Tyr 86 is not reactive with the anti-b-locus protein monoclonal antibody, TMH-1, in transient expression assays.

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