Analysis of Mutations in the Copper B Binding Region Associated With Type I (Tyrosinase‐Related) Oculocutaneous Albinism


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Mutations of the tyrosinase gene are responsible for type I (tyrosinase‐related) oculocutaneous albinism (OCA), an autosomal recessive genetic syndrome with a broad phenotypic spectrum. Mutant tyrosinase alleles can be associated with no melanin synthesis (I‐A, tyrosinase‐negative OCA), small to moderate amounts of melanin (I‐B, yellow OCA) or unusual pigment patterns (I‐TS, temperature‐sensitive OCA). A total of 26 mutations of this gene have been described in type I OCA. Analysis of all known missense mutations (n = 17) shows that most cluster in three areas of the coding region. Two clusters involve the copper A or copper B binding sites and may disrupt the metal ion‐protein interaction necessary for enzyme function and the third cluster is located in exon I. Computer modeling of the secondary structure of the copper binding regions based on homology with the known crystal structure of hemocyanin show that they both consist of two a helicies containing three histidine ligands that complex to a single copper atom. Mutations in the copper B binding region lie in the region between the two a helices that consists of a loop structure. These mutations may affect tyrosinase activity by either altering the position of the a helical domains and thus preventing proper copper binding to the histidine ligands, or affecting a catalytic or substrate binding site located between the two a helical domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-278
Number of pages5
JournalPigment Cell Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Albinism
  • Copper binding
  • Mutation
  • Tyrosinase


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