Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf) is a key regulator for differentiation of melanoblasts, precursors to melanocytes. The mouse homozygous for the black-eyed white (Mitfmi-bw) allele is characterized by the white-coat color and deafness with black eyes due to the lack of melanocytes. The Mitfmi-bw allele carries LINE-1, a retrotransposable element, which results in the Mitf deficiency. Here, we have established the black spotting mouse that was spontaneously arisen from the homozygous Mitfmi-bw mouse lacking melanocytes. The black spotting mouse shows multiple black patches on the white coat, with age-related graying. Importantly, each black patch also contains hair follicles lacking melanocytes, whereas the white-coat area completely lacks melanocytes. RT-PCR analyses of the pigmented patches confirmed that the LINE-1 insertion is retained in the Mitf gene of the black spotting mouse, thereby excluding the possibility of the somatic reversion of the Mitfmi-bw allele. The immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the staining intensity for beta-catenin was noticeably lower in hair follicles lacking melanocytes of the homozygous Mitfmi-bw mouse and the black spotting mouse, compared to the control mouse. In contrast, the staining intensity for beta-catenin and cyclin D1 was higher in keratinocytes of the black spotting mouse, compared to keratinocytes of the control mouse and the Mitfmi-bw mouse. Moreover, the keratinocyte layer appears thicker in the Mitfmi-bw mouse, with the overexpression of Ki-67, a marker for cell proliferation. We also show that the presumptive black spots are formed by embryonic day 15.5. Thus, the black spotting mouse provides the unique model to explore the molecular basis for the survival and death of developing melanoblasts and melanocyte stem cells in the epidermis. These results indicate that follicular melanocytes are responsible for maintaining the epidermal homeostasis; namely, the present study has provided evidence for the link between melanocyte development and the epidermal microenvironment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)