SLC45A2 is a transporter protein that mediates melanin synthesis. SLC45A2 is also a melanocyte differentiation antigen that is expressed in a high percentage of melanoma cell lines. A similar sequence gene in medaka fish, 'B,' encodes a transporter that mediates melanin synthesis. Mutations in this gene are a cause of oculocutaneous albinism type 4. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms.
SLC45A2 has been found to play a role in pigmentation in several species. In humans, it has been identified as a factor in the light skin of Europeans and as an ancestry-informative marker (AIM) for distinguishing Sri Lankan from European ancestry. SLC45A2 is the so-called cream gene responsible in horses for buckskin, palomino and cremello coloration, while a mutation in this gene underlies the white tiger variant. SLC45A2 was identified as a melanoma tumor-associated antigen with high tumor specificity and reduced potential for autoimmune toxicity, and is currently in clinical development as a target for T-cell based immunotherapy.
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