The Ercc1 gene is essential for nucleotide excision repair and is also important in recombination repair and the repair of interstrand crosslinks. We have previously used a foxed Ercc1 allele with a keratinocyte-specific Cre recombinase transgene to inactivate Ercc1 in the epidermal layer of the skin and so generate a mouse model for UV-induced non-melanoma skin cancer. Now, in an attempt to generate a model for UV-induced melanoma, we have used the foxed Ercc1 allele in combination with a Cre transgene under the control of the tyrosinase gene promoter to produce mice with Ercc1-deficient melanocytes that are hypersensitive to UV irradiation. These animals developed normally, but died when 4-6 months old with severe colonic obstruction. Melanocytes are derived from the neural crest and the tyrosinase promoter is also expressed in additional neural crest-derived lineages, including the progenitors of the parasympathetic nervous system that innervates the gastrointestinal tract and controls gut peristalsis. A functional enteric nervous system developed in foxed Ercc1 mice with the tyrosinase Cre transgene, but was found to have degenerated in the colons of affected mice. We suggest that accumulating unrepaired endogenous DNA damage in the Ercc1-deficient colonic parasympathetic ganglia leads to the degeneration of this network and results in a colonic obstructive disorder that resembles late-onset Hirschsprung disease in man. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.