Two cysteine substitutions in the MC1R generate the blue variant of the Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and prevent expression of the white winter coat

Peptides. 2005 Oct;26(10):1814-7. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2004.11.040.


We have characterized two mutations in the MC1R gene of the blue variant of the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) that both incorporate a novel cysteine residue into the receptor. A family study in farmed arctic foxes verified that the dominant expression of the blue color phenotype cosegregates completely with the allele harboring these two mutations. Additionally to the altered pigment synthesis, the blue fox allele suppresses the seasonal change in coat color found in the native arctic fox. Consequently, these findings suggest that the MC1R/agouti regulatory system is involved in the seasonal changes of coat color found in arctic fox.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cysteine / genetics*
  • Female
  • Foxes / genetics*
  • Foxes / physiology
  • Hair / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Pigmentation / genetics*
  • Pigmentation / physiology
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1 / physiology
  • Seasons*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1
  • Cysteine