Population and molecular evolution studies on the Melanocortin 1 receptor locus implicate its role in human pigmentation variation
Human pigmentation is a complex trait with the observed variation caused by the varied production of eumelanin (brown/black melanins) and phaeomelanin (red/yellow melanins) by the melanocytes. The melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), a G protein-coupled receptor expressed in the melanocytes, is a regulator eu- and phaeomelanin synthesis, and MC1R mutations causing skin and coat color changes are known in many mammals. To understand the role of MC1R in human pigmentation variation, I have sequenced the MC1R gene in 121 individuals sampled from world populations. In addition, I have sequenced the MC1R gene in common and pygmy chimpanzees, gorilla, orangutan, and baboon to study the evolution of MC1R and to infer the ancestral human MC1R sequence. The ancestral MC1R sequence is observed in all 25 African individuals studied, but at lower frequencies in the other populations examined, especially in East and Southeast Asians. The Arg163Gln variant is absent in the Africans studied, almost absent in Europeans, and at a low frequency in Indians, but is at an exceptionally high frequency (70%) in East and Southeast Asians. To further evaluate the role of MC1R variants in human pigmentation variation, I have combined these molecular evolution and population studies with functional assays on MC1R variants and primate MC1Rs.
Rana, Brinda Kawti, "Population and molecular evolution studies on the Melanocortin 1 receptor locus implicate its role in human pigmentation variation" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9942096.