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A premature stop codon in the TYRP1 gene is associated with brown coat colour in the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Utzeri, V. J., Ribani, A., Fontanesi, L.
Animal genetics 2014 v.45 no.4 pp. 600-603
Oryctolagus cuniculus, alleles, amino acid sequences, breeds, color, eumelanin, exons, genotyping, haplotypes, introns, loci, pigmentation, rabbits, single nucleotide polymorphism, stop codon
Classical genetic studies in European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) suggested the presence of two alleles at the brown coat colour locus: a wild‐type B allele that gives dense black pigment throughout the coat and a recessive b allele that in the homozygous condition (b/b genotype) produces brown rabbits that are unable to develop black pigmentation. In several other species, this locus is determined by mutations in the tyrosinase‐related protein 1 (TYRP1) gene, encoding a melanocyte enzyme needed for the production of dark eumelanin. In this study, we investigated the rabbit TYRP1 gene as a strong candidate for the rabbit brown coat colour locus. A total of 3846 bp of the TYRP1 gene were sequenced in eight rabbits of different breeds and identified 23 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; 12 in intronic regions, five in exons and six in the 3′‐untranslated region) and an insertion/deletion of 13 bp, in the 3′‐untranslated region, organised in a few haplotypes. A mutation in exon 2 (g.41360196G>A) leads to a premature stop codon at position 190 of the deduced amino acid sequence (p.Trp190ter). Therefore, translation predicts a truncated TYRP1 protein lacking almost completely the tyrosinase domain. Genotyping 203 rabbits of 32 different breeds identified this mutation only in brown Havana rabbits. Its potential functional relevance in disrupting the TYRP1 protein and its presence only in brown animals strongly argue for this non‐sense mutation being a causative mutation for the recessive b allele at the brown locus in Oryctolagus cuniculus.