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The G protein-coupled MC1R is expressed in melanocytes and has a pivotal role in human skin pigmentation, with reduced function in human genetic variants exhibiting a red hair phenotype and increased melanoma predisposition. Beyond its role in pigmentation, MC1R is increasingly recognized as promoting UV-induced DNA damage repair. Consequently, there is mounting interest in targeting MC1R for therapeutic benefit. However, whether MC1R expression is restricted to melanocytes or is more widely expressed remains a matter of debate. In this paper, we review MC1R function and highlight that unbiased analysis suggests that its expression is restricted to melanocytes, granulocytes, and the brain.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of investigative dermatology

Publication Date





293 - 302.e1


Dermatology Unit, Surgical, Medical and Dental Department of Morphological Sciences Related to Transplant, Oncological and Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy. Electronic address:


Brain, Granulocytes, Melanocytes, Animals, Humans, Mice, Melanoma, Skin Neoplasms, DNA Damage, Disease Models, Animal, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Melanins, Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1, Skin Pigmentation, Ultraviolet Rays, Hair Color, DNA Repair, Lipoylation, Genetic Variation, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Loss of Function Mutation