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Biochemical Control of Melanogenesis and Melanosomal Organization

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      Current knowledge on the regulation of mammalian pigmentation at the genetic and biochemical level, and constituents that participate in melanosomal organization, is summarized. Approximately 25% of the more than 80 genes known to regulate pigmentation in mammals have been cloned and characterized to date. Almost half of those encode proteins that localize, either specifically or nonspecifically, to melanosomes; mutations in those genes generally lead to phenotypic changes in pigmentation as well as in other pleiotropic changes. The expression and function of these proteins not only affects phenotypic appearance, but also the properties of melanins, especially their photoprotective characteristics. Because many of those melanosomal proteins also serve as melanoma-specific targets, regulation of their expression has dramatic implications for immune targeting of malignant melanoma.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      ASP (agouti signal protein), DHI (5,6-dihydroxyindole), DHICA (DHI-2-carboxylic acid), MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone), TRP (tyrosinase related protein)