Specific expression of Gsta4 in mouse cochlear melanocytes: A novel role for hearing and melanocyte differentiation

Shigeyuki Uehara, Yoshiko Izumi, Yuko Kubo, Chi Chiu Wang, Katsuhiko Mineta, Kazuho Ikeo, Takashi Gojobori, Masayoshi Tachibana, Toshihiko Kikuchi, Toshimitsu Kobayashi, Shigeki Shibahara, Choji Taya, Hiromichi Yonekawa, Toshihiko Shiroishi, Hiroaki Yamamoto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Mammalian pigment cells produce melanin as the main pigment. Melanocytes, one of the two types of mammalian pigment cells, differentiate from the neural crest and migrate to a variety of organs during development. Melanocytes exist not only in the skin but also in other sites such as the cochlea where they are essential for hearing. Mitfmi-bw is one of the known recessive alleles of the mouse microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf) locus, which is essential for the development of pigment cells. Homozygous Mitfmi-bw/Mitfmi-bw mice have a completely white coat with black eyes and are deaf due to the lack of melanocytes. By comparing gene expression profiles in cochleae of wild-type and Mitfmi-bw/Mitf mi-bw mice, we now demonstrate the specific expression of glutathione S-transferase alpha 4 (Gsta4) in the stria vascularis. Gsta4 encodes one of the cytosolic glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) which participate in detoxification processes of many tissues. This gene is specifically expressed in intermediate cells of the stria vascularis, suggesting a novel function for cochlear melanocytes. Moreover, among mammalian pigment cells, expression of Gsta4 was restricted to cochlear melanocytes, suggesting that melanocytes in various tissues differentiate from one another depending on their location.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalPigment Cell and Melanoma Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochlea
  • Dct
  • Eye
  • Gene expression
  • Gsta4
  • Intermediate cell
  • Kit
  • Kit/ Kit
  • Melanin
  • Melanocyte
  • Mitf
  • Mitf
  • Mus musculus
  • Pigment cell
  • Skin
  • Stria vascularis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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