Review

Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 9, pp 1493-1506

Cellular mechanisms regulating human melanogenesis

  • H. Y. ParkAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , M. KosmadakiAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine
  • , M. YaarAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine
  • , B. A. GilchrestAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine

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Abstract.

The major differentiated function of melanocytes is the synthesis of melanin, a pigmented heteropolymer that is synthesized in specialized cellular organelles termed melanosomes. Mature melanosomes are transferred to neighboring keratinocytes and are arranged in a supranuclear cap, protecting the DNA against incident ultraviolet light (UV) irradiation. The synthesis and distribution of melanin in the epidermis involves several steps: transcription of melanogenic proteins, melanosome biogenesis, sorting of melanogenic proteins into the melanosomes, transport of melanosomes to the tips of melanocyte dendrites and finally transfer into keratinocytes. These events are tightly regulated by a variety of paracrine and autocrine factors in response to endogenous and exogenous stimuli, principally UV irradiation.

Keywords.

Melanogenesis melanosomes UV DNA damages melanocytes