Reptiles exhibit a spectacular diversity of skin colors and patterns brought about by the interactions among three chromatophore types: black melanophores with melanin-packed melanosomes, red and yellow xanthophores with pteridine- and/or carotenoid-containing vesicles, and iridophores filled with light-reflecting platelets generating structural colors. Whereas the melanosome, the only color-producing endosome in mammals and birds, has been documented as a lysosome-related organelle, the maturation paths of xanthosomes and iridosomes are unknown. Here, we first use 10x Genomics linked-reads and optical mapping to assemble and annotate a nearly chromosome-quality genome of the corn snake The assembly is 1.71 Gb long, with an N50 of 16.8 Mb and L50 of 24. Second, we perform mapping-by-sequencing analyses and identify a 3.9-Mb genomic interval where the variant resides. The lavender color morph in corn snakes is characterized by gray, rather than red, blotches on a pink, instead of orange, background. Third, our sequencing analyses reveal a single nucleotide polymorphism introducing a premature stop codon in the lysosomal trafficking regulator gene () that shortens the corresponding protein by 603 amino acids and removes evolutionary-conserved domains. Fourth, we use light and transmission electron microscopy comparative analyses of wild type versus lavender corn snakes and show that the color-producing endosomes of all chromatophores are substantially affected in the mutant. Our work provides evidence characterizing xanthosomes in xanthophores and iridosomes in iridophores as lysosome-related organelles.
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