Journal Article

Alterations in Mc1r gene expression are associated with regressive pigmentation in Astyanax cavefish

Stahl, Bethany A. and Gross, Joshua B.

Record Number:
2908
Year:
2015
Journal:
Development Genes and Evolution
Pages:
367-375
Volume:
225
Short Title:
Alterations in Mc1r gene expression are associated with regressive pigmentation in Astyanax cavefish
Notes:
grossja@ucmail.uc.edu
URL:
://ZOOREC:ZOOR15202012223
Accession Number:
Zoorec:Zoor15202012223
Language:
English
Issue:
6
Abstract:
Diverse changes in coloration across distant taxa are mediated through alterations in certain highly conserved pigmentation genes. Among these genes, Mc1r is a frequent target for mutation, and many documented alterations involve coding sequence changes. We investigated whether regulatory mutations in Mc1r may also contribute to pigmentation loss in the blind Mexican cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus. This species comprises multiple independent cave populations that have evolved reduced (or absent) melanic pigmentation as a consequence of living in darkness for millions of generations. Among the most salient cave-associated traits, complete absence (albinism) or reduced levels of pigmentation (brown) have long been the focus of degenerative pigmentation research in Astyanax. These two Mendelian traits have been linked to specific coding mutations in Oca2 (albinism) and Mc1r (brown). However, four of the seven caves harboring the brown phenotype exhibit unaffected coding sequences compared to surface fish. Thus, diverse genetic changes involving the same genes likely impact reduced pigmentation among cavefish populations. Using both sequence and expression analyses, we show that certain cave-dwelling populations harboring the brown mutation have substantial alterations to the putative Mc1r cis-regulatory region. Several of these sequence mutations in the Mc1r 5' region were present across multiple, independent cave populations. This study suggests that pigmentation reduction in Astyanax cavefish evolves through a combination of both coding and cis-regulatory mutations. Moreover, this study represents one of the first attempts to identify regulatory alterations linked to regressive changes in cave-dwelling populations of A. mexicanus.
Times Cited:
1
Author Address:
Usa
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