The Tyrosinase Gene and Oculocutaneous Albinism Type 1 (OCA1): A Model for Understanding the Molecular Biology of Melanin Formation


Address reprint requests to William S. Oetting, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, Mayo Mail Code 485, 420 Delaware St. S.E., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail:


Through the last century there has been a steady progression in our understanding of the biology of melanin biosynthesis. Much of this work includes the analysis of coat color mutations of the mouse and albinism in man. Our understanding has been greatly enhanced in the last 10 years, as the molecular pathogenesis of albinism has been better understood. Different mutations of the tyrosinase gene (TYR) , and their association with oculocutaneous albinism type 1 (OCA1) has provided insight into the biology of tyrosinase, including protein trafficking and structure/function analysis. Several questions still remain, including cryptic mutations that affect tyrosinase activity and the minimum amount of pigment required for normal optic development. The next 10 years should prove just as exciting as the last.