- The Genetics Society of Japan
- Genes & Genetic Systems (ISSN:13417568)
- pp.20-00047, (Released:2021-03-06)
Albino mutants (white coat and red eyes) of tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) have been repeatedly found in the Central Alps area of Japan. We recently reported that an albino tanuki from Iida, a city in this area, lacks the third exon of the TYR gene encoding tyrosinase, which is essential for melanin synthesis. The absence of this exon was due to the chromosomal deletion of a complex structure. In the present study, we analyzed TYR of another albino tanuki that was found in Matsusaka, a city located outside the mountainous area. In this animal, the third exon was also lost, and the loss was due to a deletion in which the structure was identical to that of the Iida mutant. Our results indicate, in consideration of the complex structure of the deletion, that the two albino animals inherited a single deletion that arose in their common ancestor. Iida and Matsusaka are approximately 170 km apart. This is, to our knowledge, the first report of an albino mutant gene that is widely distributed in mammalian natural populations. As the origin of this mutation is not known, the distance covered by the mutant gene remains unclear. If we assume that the mutation occurred halfway between Iida and Matsusaka, we can predict the migration distance to be approximately 85 km; however, if the mutation occurred at any other place, a longer distance would be predicted. Natural selection against albino tanuki may be relaxed because of a recent increase in food resources and refuge in urban areas.