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Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Aug;23(15):5245-55.

The actin-binding domain of Slac2-a/melanophilin is required for melanosome distribution in melanocytes.

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  • 1Fukuda Initiative Research Unit, RIKEN (The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research), 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.


Melanosomes containing melanin pigments are transported from the cell body of melanocytes to the tips of their dendrites by a combination of microtubule- and actin-dependent machinery. Three proteins, Rab27A, myosin Va, and Slac2-a/melanophilin (a linker protein between Rab27A and myosin Va), are known to be essential for proper actin-based melanosome transport in melanocytes. Although Slac2-a directly interacts with Rab27A and myosin Va via its N-terminal region (amino acids 1 to 146) and the middle region (amino acids 241 to 405), respectively, the functional importance of the putative actin-binding domain of the Slac2-a C terminus (amino acids 401 to 590) in melanosome transport has never been elucidated. In this study we showed that formation of a tripartite protein complex between Rab27A, Slac2-a, and myosin Va alone is insufficient for peripheral distribution of melanosomes in melanocytes and that the C-terminal actin-binding domain of Slac2-a is also required for proper melanosome transport. When a Slac2-a deletion mutant (DeltaABD) or point mutant (KA) that lacks actin-binding ability was expressed in melanocytes, the Slac2-a mutants induced melanosome accumulation in the perinuclear region, possibly by a dominant negative effect, the same as the Rab27A-binding-defective mutant of Slac2-a or the myosin Va-binding-defective mutant. Our findings indicate that Slac2-a organizes actin-based melanosome transport in cooperation with Rab27A, myosin Va, and actin.

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