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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 49(8)

Characterisation of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene in alpaca and identification of possible markers associated with phenotypic variations in colour

N. L. Feeley A, K. A. Munyard A B

A School of Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: k.munyard@exchange.curtin.edu.au
 
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine if any correlation exists between melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) polymorphisms and skin and fibre colour in alpacas. Primers capable of amplifying the entire alpaca MC1R gene were designed from a comparative alignment of Bos taurus and Mus musculus MC1R gene sequences. The complete MC1R gene of 41 alpacas exhibiting a range of fibre colours, and which were sourced from farms across Australia, was sequenced from PCR products. Twenty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms were identified within MC1R. Two of these polymorphisms (A82G and C901T) have the potential to reduce eumelanin production by disrupting the activity of MC1R. No agreement was observed between fibre colour alone and MC1R genotype in the 41 animals in this study. However, when the animals were assigned to groups based on the presence or absence of eumelanin in their fibre and skin, only animals that had at least one allele with the A82/C901 combination expressed eumelanin. We propose that A82/C901 is the wild-type dominant ‘EMC1R allele, while alpacas with either G82/T901 or G82/Y901 are homozygous for the recessive ‘eMC1R allele and are therefore unable to produce eumelanin.

Keywords: melanin, pigmentation, single nucleotide polymorphism.


   
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