Coat color dilution in mice because of inactivation of the melanoma antigen MART-1


F. Beermann, e-mail:


Melanoma antigen recognized by T cells 1 (MART-1) is a melanoma-specific antigen, which has been thoroughly studied in the context of immunotherapy against malignant melanoma and which is found only in the pigment cell lineage. However, its exact function and involvement in pigmentation is not clearly understood. Melanoma antigen recognized by T cells 1 has been shown to interact with the melanosomal proteins Pmel17 and OA1. To understand the function of MART-1 in pigmentation, we developed a new knockout mouse model. Mice deficient in MART-1 are viable, but loss of MART-1 leads to a coat color phenotype, with a reduction in total melanin content of the skin and hair. Lack of MART-1 did not affect localization of melanocyte-specific proteins nor maturation of Pmel17. Melanosomes of hair follicle melanocytes in MART-1 knockout mice displayed morphological abnormalities, which were exclusive to stage III and IV melanosomes. In conclusion, our results suggest that MART-1 is a pigmentation gene that is required for melanosome biogenesis and/or maintenance.