The varitint-waddler mouse phenotypes and the TRPML3 ion channel mutation: cause and consequence

Pflugers Arch. 2008 Nov;457(2):463-73. doi: 10.1007/s00424-008-0523-4. Epub 2008 May 27.


The transient receptor potential mucolipins (TRPMLs) are the most recently discovered subfamily of TRP ion channel proteins. Positional cloning approach has identified two mutations in the TRPML3 (Mcoln3) gene that cause the varitint-waddler mouse phenotypes. Short for variable tint (diluted coat color), the varitint-waddler consists two phenotypes Va and Va ( J ). The mutation associated with the Va phenotype is an alanine to proline substitution at position 419 (A419P) within the predicted fifth transmembrane (TM5) domain of TRPML3. The second Va ( J ) mouse phenotype arose spontaneously from an isoleucine to threonine substitution at position 362 (I362T) that is proximal to the predicted TM3 domain in addition to the existing A419P mutation on TM5. Mice with the Va and Va ( J ) mutations exhibit a spectrum of disease phenotypes from diluted coat color to auditory and vestibular problems, depending on which alleles are present. It has been over 5 years since the discovery of these TRPML3 mutations, and it was just recently that the nature of these mutations has been characterized. In this review, we discuss the molecular and cell physiological effects of the two distinct TRPML3 mutations. We reveal the effects of proline substitution on transmembrane domain structure and channel function and discuss how the Va mutation confers its cytotoxicity, while the Va ( J ) mutation results in an apparent rescue phenotype. Finally, we briefly tackle molecular strategies that have been employed to neutralize the cytotoxic effect and constitutive channel activity of the Va mutation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alanine
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Hair Color / genetics
  • Hearing / genetics
  • Hearing Disorders / genetics
  • Hearing Disorders / metabolism
  • Isoleucine
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Proline
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics
  • TRPM Cation Channels / chemistry
  • TRPM Cation Channels / genetics*
  • TRPM Cation Channels / metabolism*
  • Threonine
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels


  • Mcoln3 protein, mouse
  • TRPM Cation Channels
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels
  • Isoleucine
  • Threonine
  • Proline
  • Alanine
  • Calcium