Fifteen-year quest for microphthalmia-associated transcription factor target genes

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010 Feb;23(1):27-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2009.00653.x. Epub 2009 Nov 25.


Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) was initially shown to play a key role in melanocyte differentiation through the direct transcriptional control of TYROSINASE, TYRP1 and DCT genes, encoding the three enzymes involved in melanin synthesis or melanogenesis. Sixteen years after the first description of MITF, more than 40 direct MITF target genes have been described. They play a key role in melanocyte, osteoclast and mast cell specific functions. Furthermore, several MITF target genes, e.g. BCL2, CDK2, CDKN1A, CDKN2A, MET and HIF1A, link MITF to general cellular processes such as growth or survival. In this review, we provide an overview of the MITF-regulated genes. We pay special attention to the MITF target genes in melanocytes and raise questions about target specificity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Melanocytes / cytology
  • Melanocytes / metabolism*
  • Melanosomes / genetics
  • Melanosomes / metabolism
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / genetics*
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Melanins
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Transcription Factors