2018 Volume 93 Issue 4 Pages 163-167
The Japanese rat snake (Elaphe climacophora) is a common species in Japan and is widely distributed across the Japanese islands. An albino mutant of the Japanese rat snake (“pet trade” albino) has been bred and traded by hobbyists for around two decades because of its remarkable light-yellowish coloration with red eyes, attributable to a lack of melanin. Another albino Japanese rat snake mutant found in a natural population of the Japanese rat snake at high frequency in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture is known as “Iwakuni no Shirohebi”. It has been conserved by the government as a natural monument. The Iwakuni albino also lacks melanin, having light-yellowish body coloration and red eyes. Albino mutants of several organisms have been studied, and mutation of the tyrosinase gene (TYR) is responsible for this phenotype. By determining the sequence of the TYR coding region of the pet trade albino, we identified a nonsense mutation in the second exon. Furthermore, RT-PCR revealed that TYR transcripts were not detected in this snake. These findings suggest that mutation of TYR is responsible for the albino phenotype of the pet trade line of the Japanese rat snake. However, the Iwakuni albino did not share this TYR mutation; thus, these two albino lines differ in their origins.