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Hum Mol Genet. 1995 Feb;4(2):223-30.

Structure and function of ASP, the human homolog of the mouse agouti gene.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford, CA 94305-5428, USA.


The mouse agouti coat color gene encodes a novel paracrine signaling molecule whose pulsatile expression produces a characteristic pattern of banded pigment in individual hairs. Several spontaneous agouti alleles produce adult-onset obesity and diabetes, and have provided important single-gene animal models for alterations in energy metabolism. Utilizing linkage groups conserved between mice and humans, we have cloned the human homolog of the mouse agouti gene from a human chromosome 20 yeast artificial chromosome known to contain S-adenosyl homocysteine hydrolase (AHCY). The human agouti gene, named Agouti Signaling Protein (ASP), encodes a 132 amino acid protein, the mRNA for which is expressed in testis, ovary, and heart, and at lower levels in liver, kidney, and foreskin. As predicted by the interactions of mouse agouti with the extension gene (which encodes the melanocyte receptor for alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone [alpha-MSH]), expression of ASP in transgenic mice produces a yellow coat, and expression of ASP in cell culture blocks the alpha-MSH-stimulated accumulation of cAMP in mouse melanoma cells. The localization of ASP relative to other loci on chromosome 20 excludes it as a candidate for the MODY1 locus, a gene responsible for one form of early-onset non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or maturity-onset diabetes of the young. The expression of ASP in human tissues suggests a function for agouti homologs in species that do not exhibit the characteristic phenotype of banded hairs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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