Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Lidia Kos

Abstract

Endothelin-3 (Edn3) has been shown to be an essential environmental cue in melanocyte development. Edn3 and its receptor, EdnrB, are allelic to mouse mutations occurring at the lethal spotting and piebald loci, respectively; these mutations result in hypopigmentation phenotypes. Mutations in the genes for both Edn3 and EdnrB are implicated in human pigmentation disorders such as Waardenburg-Shah syndrome, which is characterized by pigmentation defects, deafness, and megacolon. In this study, a tetracycline-inducible transgenic mouse model that overexpresses Edn3 under the control of the Keratin 5 promoter was shown to produce a hyperpigmentation phenotype that decreases over time. The expression pattern of transgenic Edn3 and its effects on the melanocyte population were examined in transgenic embryos, postnatal skin, and the skin of adult mice that exhibit faded hyperpigmentation. These studies suggest that overexpression of Edn3 in this model is restricted primarily to the roof plate of the neural tube and surface ectoderm in the developing embryo and to keratinocytes in the epidermis of postnatal mice. A decline in transgenic expression and a reduction in the dermal melanocytes and free melanin that characterize the phenotype in juvenile mice were shown to correlate with the fading of the hyperpigmentation phenotype. Transgenic mice in which transgenic expression was repressed (resulting in the disappearance of the hyperpigmentation phenotype) also exhibited a decrease in the dermal melanocyte population. The Edn3-overexpressing mice used in this study might be helpful m understanding human skin conditions characterized by dermal melanocytosis.

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