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    The squamates (lizards and snakes) are close relatives of birds and mammals, with more than 10,000 described species that display extensive variation in a number of important biological traits, including coloration, venom production, and regeneration. Due to a lack of genomic tools, few genetic studies in squamates have been carried out. The leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is a popular companion animal, and displays a variety of coloration patterns. We took advantage of a large breeding colony and used linkage analysis, synteny, and homozygosity mapping to investigate a spontaneous semi-dominant mutation, "Lemon Frost", that produces white coloration and causes skin tumors (iridophoroma). We localized the mutation to a single locus which contains a strong candidate gene, SPINT1, a tumor suppressor implicated in human skin cutaneous melanoma (SKCM) and over-proliferation of epithelial cells in mice and zebrafish. Our work establishes the leopard gecko as a tractable genetic system and suggests that a tumor suppressor in melanocytes in humans can also suppress tumor development in iridophores in lizards.


    Longhua Guo, Joshua Bloom, Steve Sykes, Elaine Huang, Zain Kashif, Elise Pham, Katarina Ho, Ana Alcaraz, Xinshu Grace Xiao, Sandra Duarte-Vogel, Leonid Kruglyak. Genetics of white color and iridophoroma in "Lemon Frost" leopard geckos. PLoS genetics. 2021 Jun;17(6):e1009580

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    PMID: 34166378

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