Pro-opiomelanocortin gene and melanin-based colour polymorphism in a reptile

Ducrest, Anne-Lyse and Ursenbacher, Sylvain and Golay, Philippe and Monney, Jean-Claude and Mebert, Konrad and Roulin, Alexandre and Dubey, Sylvain. (2014) Pro-opiomelanocortin gene and melanin-based colour polymorphism in a reptile. Biological journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 111, H. 1. pp. 160-168.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6205512

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Colour polymorphism is widespread among vertebrates and plays important roles in prey–predator interactions, thermoregulation, social competition, and sexual selection. However, the genetic mechanisms involved in colour variation have been studied mainly in domestic mammals and birds, whereas information on wild animals remains scarce. Interestingly, the pro-opiomelanocortin gene (POMC) gives rise to melanocortin hormones that trigger melanogenesis (by binding the melanocortin-1-receptor; Mc1r) and other physiological and behavioural functions (by binding the melanocortin receptors Mc1-5rs). Owing to its pleiotropic effect, the POMC gene could therefore account for the numerous covariations between pigmentation and other phenotypic traits. We screened the POMC and Mc1r genes in 107 wild asp vipers (Vipera aspis) that can exhibit four discrete colour morphs (two unpatterned morphs: concolor or melanistic; two patterned morphs: blotched or lined) in a single population. Our study revealed a correlation between a single nucleotide polymorphism situated within the 3′-untranslated region of the POMC gene and colour variation, whereas Mc1r was not found to be polymorphic. To the best of our knowledge, we disclose for the first time a relationship between a mutation at the POMC gene and coloration in a wild animal, as well as a correlation between a genetic marker and coloration in a snake species. Interestingly, similar mutations within the POMC 3′-untranslated region are linked to human obesity and alcohol and drug dependence. Combined with our results, this suggests that the 3′-untranslated region of the POMC gene may play a role in its regulation in distant vertebrates.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Ursenbacher, Sylvain
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Academic Press
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:31 Jan 2014 09:49
Deposited On:31 Jan 2014 09:49

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