agouti is a gene that controls the distribution of the natural pigment, melanin, in the hair of mammals and helps determine their coat color patterns. The main product of the agouti gene is the agouti signalling peptide but there are a number of other products. The mechanisms of the gene have been extensively studied in many domestic mammals as they are good models for biomedical research.
In horses, the agouti gene suppresses the action of the extension locus that produces black pigment (eumelanin) into point coloration on the mane, tail, lower legs and tips of the ears, thus allowing the underlying red pigment, pheomelanin, to appear on the body. This produces the color known as bay.
Mice that are heterozygous for the agouti yellow allele have yellow coats and are more prone to obesity. Mice that are homozygous for the agouti yellow allele die during embryonic development because the yellow allele is a recessive lethal allele. Mice that are homozygous for the non-agouti alleles have non-agouti coat colors like black.
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