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Vet Pathol. 2008 Mar;45(2):264-79. doi: 10.1354/vp.45-2-264.

Ocular albinism and hypopigmentation defects in Slc24a5-/- mice.

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  • 1Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc., 8800 Technology Forest Place, The Woodlands, TX 77381-1160, USA.


As part of a high-throughput mutagenesis and phenotyping process designed to discover novel drug targets, we generated and characterized mice with a targeted mutation in Slc24a5, a gene encoding a putative cation exchanger. Upon macroscopic examination, Slc24a5-/- mice were viable, fertile, and indistinguishable by coat color from their heterozygous and wild-type litter mates. Ophthalmoscopic examination revealed diffuse retinal hypopigmentation, and a histologic examination of the eye confirmed the presence of moderate-to-marked hypopigmentation of the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), ciliary body, and iris pigment epithelium (IPE). Hypopigmentation was most severe in the anterior layer cells of the IPE, where melanosomes were smaller, paler, and more indistinct than those of the anterior stroma and posterior IPE. The pigment granules of the posterior IPE appeared to be nearly as dark as those in stromal melanocytes; however, both cell layers were thinner and paler than corresponding layers in wild-type mice. Ultrastructural analysis of the RPE, IPE, and ciliary body pigmented cells confirmed that mutation of Slc24a5 results in marked hypopigmentation of melanosomes in optic cup-derived pigmented neuroepithelium in the eyes. Milder reductions in melanosome size and pigmentation were noted in neural crest-derived melanocytes. The severe hypopigmentation of neuroepithelium-derived cells in the eyes resulted in a novel form of ocular albinism in Slc24a5-/- mice. Our findings suggest that SLC24A5 may be a candidate gene for some forms of ocular albinism and for the BEY1/EYCL2 locus previously associated with central brown eye color in humans.

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