Mutations in microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) lead to Waardenburg syndrome type 2 (WS2), a dominantly inherited disorder involving hearing loss and pigment disturbances caused by a lack of melanocytes. On rare occasions, mutations in MITF lead to Tietz syndrome (TS), which is characterized by a severe WS2 phenotype. The MITF gene is the human homolog of the mouse microphthalmia (mi) gene in some families. Mi/mi mice show decreased numbers and an abnormal phenotype of mast cells (MC). In contrast, the number and phenotype of MC in WS2/TS patients who also have an alteration in their MITF gene are unclear. In this study, we identified a mutation in the MITF gene, delR217, which was equivalent to that found in mi/mi mice, in a case of TS. None of the MITF isoforms with the mutation were able to transactivate the tyrosinase gene promoter. In addition, mutant MITF-M showed dominant negative activity toward wild-type MITF-M, inhibiting its transactivation of the tyrosinase gene promoter. The patient's peripheral blood CD34+ cells showed no differences with respect to total cell number or their expression levels of tryptase mRNA in a serum-deprived liquid culture system for 6 weeks when compared with normal control cells. These findings suggest that MITF does not play a critical role in MC development in humans.