Polymorphisms in MC1R and ASIP Genes are associated with Coat Color Variation in the Arabian Camel

Pigmentation in mammals is primarily determined by the distribution of eumelanin and pheomelanin, the ratio of which is mostly controlled by the activity of melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) and agouti signaling protein (ASIP) genes. Using 91 animals from 10 Arabian camel populations, that included the 4 predominant coat color phenotypes observed in the dromedary (light brown, dark brown, black, and white), we investigated the effects of the MC1R and ASIP sequence variants and identified candidate polymorphisms associated with coat color variation. In particular, we identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), found in the coding region of MC1R (901C/T), linked to the white coat color, whereas a 1-bp deletion (23delT/T) and a SNP (25G/A) in exon 2 of ASIP are associated with both black and dark-brown coat colors. Our results also indicate support that the light-brown coat color is likely the ancestral coat color for the dromedary. These sequence variations at the MC1R and ASIP genes represent the first documented evidence of candidate polymorphisms associated with Mendelian traits in the dromedary.