A transgenic mouse assay for agouti protein activity

W. L. Perry, C. M. Hustad, D. A. Swing, Nancy A. Jenkins, Neal G. Copeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The mouse agouti gene encodes an 131 amino acid paracrine signaling molecule that instructs hair follicle melanocytes to switch from making black to yellow pigment. Expression of agouti during the middle part of the hair growth cycle in wild-type mice produces a yellow band on an otherwise black hair. The ubiquitous unregulated expression of agouti in mice carrying dominant yellow alleles is associated with pleiotropic effects including increased yellow pigment in the coat, obesity, diabetes and increased tumor susceptibility. Agouti shows no significant homology to known genes, and the molecular analysis of agouti alleles has shed little new light on the important functional elements of the agouti protein. In this paper, we show that agouti expression driven by the human β-ACTIN promoter produces obese yellow transgenic mice and that this can be used as an assay for agouti activity. We used this assay to evaluate a point mutation associated with the a(16H) allele within the region encoding agouti's putative signal sequence and our results suggest that this mutation is sufficient to cause the a(16H) phenotype. Thus, in vitro mutagenesis followed by the generation of transgenic mice should allow us to identify important functional elements of the agouti protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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