Molecular and phenotypic analysis of 25 recessive, homozygous-viable alleles at the mouse agouti locus.

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Amino-Acid-Sequence, Animal, Exons, Female, Genes-Recessive, Hair, Male, Melanins, Mice, Mice-Inbred-C3H, Mice-Inbred-C57BL, Molecular-Sequence-Data, Mutation, Phenotype, Pigmentation, Proteins, Sequence-Analysis-DNA, SUPPORT-NON-U-S-GOVT, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-NON-P-H-S, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-P-H-S

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Genetics 2002 Feb; 160(2):659-74.




Agouti is a paracrine-acting, transient antagonist of melanocortin 1 receptors that specifies the subapical band of yellow on otherwise black hairs of the wild-type coat. To better understand both agouti structure/function and the germline damage caused by chemicals and radiation, an allelic series of 25 recessive, homozygous-viable agouti mutations generated in specific-locus tests were characterized. Visual inspection of fur, augmented by quantifiable chemical analysis of hair melanins, suggested four phenotypic categories (mild, moderate, umbrous-like, severe) for the 18 hypomorphs and a single category for the 7 amorphs (null). Molecular analysis indicated protein-coding alterations in 8 hypomorphs and 6 amorphs, with mild-moderate phenotypes correlating with signal peptide or basic domain mutations, and more devastating phenotypes resulting from C-terminal lesions. Ten hypomorphs and one null demonstrated wild-type coding potential, suggesting that they contain mutations elsewhere in the > or = 125-kb agouti locus that either reduce the level or alter the temporal/spatial distribution of agouti transcripts. Beyond the notable contributions to the field of mouse germ cell mutagenesis, analysis of this allelic series illustrates that complete abrogation of agouti function in vivo occurs most often through protein-coding lesions, whereas partial loss of function occurs slightly more frequently at the level of gene expression control.