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Keywords:

  • Gpnmb;
  • Mitf;
  • Sox10;
  • melanoblast;
  • melanocyte;
  • melanoma

Summary

Expression profile analysis clusters Gpnmb with known pigment genes, Tyrp1, Dct, and Si. During development, Gpnmb is expressed in a pattern similar to Mitf, Dct and Si with expression vastly reduced in Mitf mutant animals. Unlike Dct and Si, Gpnmb remains expressed in a discrete population of caudal melanoblasts in Sox10-deficient embryos. To understand the transcriptional regulation of Gpnmb we performed a whole genome annotation of 2,460,048 consensus MITF binding sites, and cross-referenced this with evolutionarily conserved genomic sequences at the GPNMB locus. One conserved element, GPNMB-MCS3, contained two MITF consensus sites, significantly increased luciferase activity in melanocytes and was sufficient to drive expression in melanoblasts in vivo. Deletion of the 5′-most MITF consensus site dramatically reduced enhancer activity indicating a significant role for this site in Gpnmb transcriptional regulation. Future analysis of the Gpnmb locus will provide insight into the transcriptional regulation of melanocytes, and Gpnmb expression can be used as a marker for analyzing melanocyte development and disease progression.