The genetics of pigmentation: from fancy genes to complex traits

Trends Genet. 1996 Aug;12(8):299-305. doi: 10.1016/0168-9525(96)10031-7.


Genes that control mammalian pigmentation interact with each other in intricate networks that have been studied for decades using mouse coat color mutations. Molecular isolation of the affected genes and the ability to study their effects in a defined genetic background have led to surprising new insights into the potential interaction between tyrosine kinase and G-protein-coupled signaling pathways. Recent developments show that homologous genes in humans are responsible not only for rare diseases, such as albinism and piebaldism, but also for common phenotypic variations, such as red hair and fair skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hair Color / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Models, Biological
  • Piebaldism / genetics
  • Pigmentation Disorders / genetics*
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics*