The periodic albino mutant of Xenopus laevis has been used to study the development of pigment cells because both the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and melanophores are affected. In this mutant, “white pigment cells” containing both melanophore-specific and iridophore-specific pigment organelles appear. The present experiments were designed to investigate the structural organization and expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf) in the mutant since Mitf is known to regulate the development of melanocytes and RPE. The exon structures of X. laevis mitf genes (mitf.L and mitf.S) were defined using newly obtained Mitf transcripts and X. laevis genomic data. Compared to mouse mitf, exons 3 and 6a were absent in X. laevis mitf. The four exons between exons 4 and 6b in X. laevis mitf were named 5α, 5β, 5γ, and 5δ. Exons 5α and 5δ were specific to X. laevis mitf, whereas the continuous exons 5β/γ were identical to exon 5 of mouse mitf. A wide variety of A-Mitf and M-Mitf transcript variants lacking one or more exons were found in X. laevis; however, different types of Mitf transcripts were expressed in the mutant. In addition, white pigment cells and melanophores expressed both the mitf and dopachrome tautomerase (dct) genes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology