A frameshift mutation in MC1R and a high frequency of somatic reversions cause black spotting in pigs. Academic Article uri icon


  • Black spotting on a red or white background in pigs is determined by the E(P) allele at the MC1R/Extension locus. A previous comparison of partial MC1R sequences revealed that E(P) shares a missense mutation (D121N) with the E(D2) allele for dominant black color. Sequence analysis of the entire coding region now reveals a second mutation in the form of a 2-bp insertion at codon 23 (nt67insCC). This mutation expands a tract of six C nucleotides to eight and introduces a premature stop codon at position 56. This frameshift mutation is expected to cause a recessive red color, which was in fact observed in some breeds with the E(P) allele present (Tamworth and Hereford). RT-PCR analyses were conducted using skin samples taken from both spotted and background areas of spotted pigs. The background red area had transcript only from the mutant nt67insCC MC1R allele, whereas the black spot also contained a transcript without the 2-bp insertion. This indicates that black spots are due to somatic reversion events that restore the frame and MC1R function. The phenotypic expression of the E(P) allele is highly variable and the associated coat color ranges from red, red with black spots, white with black spots, to almost completely solid black. In several breeds of pigs the phenotypic manifestation of this allele has been modified by selection for or against black spots.

published proceedings

  • Genetics

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kijas, J. M., Moller, M., Plastow, G., & Andersson, L.

citation count

  • 106

complete list of authors

  • Kijas, JM||Moller, M||Plastow, G||Andersson, L

publication date

  • June 2001