Regulation of the Mouse and Human Melanocortin-1 Receptor

  • Zalfa Abdel-Malek
Part of the The Receptors book series (REC)


Decades before the molecular cloning of the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1-R) gene, genetic studies on the coat color of mice concluded that the extension (e) locus codes for a receptor for melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) (1,2). Activation of this receptor is known to regulate the switch from pheomelanin to eumelanin synthesis in mouse follicular melanocytes (1–4). In addition, mutations at the e locus were found to be associated with either a reduction or an increase in eumelanin formation (1,5,6). Since the 1970s numerous studies have focused on elucidating the mechanism of action of α-or β-MSH on the vertebrate pigmentary systems. In most cases, these studies relied on bioassays of lizard or frog skins, or utilized established mouse melanoma cell lines as an in vitro model to explore the role of MSH in mammalian pigmentation (7–12). Comparative analysis of the MSH receptors expressed on pigment cells of different vertebrate species was based primarily on structure—function studies. In these, the relative potencies of physiologic melanotropic hormones or synthetic analogs of α-MSH were compared (9,13–17). Most of what we currently know about the signaling pathway of α-MSH came from studies on the pigmentary effects of α-or β-MSH, particularly on mouse normal melanocytes or melanoma cell lines (2,12,18–21).


Melanoma Cell Cholera Toxin Pigment Cell Tyrosinase Activity Frog Skin 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

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  • Zalfa Abdel-Malek

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