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Am J Pathol. 2005 Jan;166(1):231-40.

Melanocyte-specific proteins are aberrantly trafficked in melanocytes of Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome-type 3.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, ML-0592, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0592, USA.


Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome-type 3 (HPS-3) is a relatively mild subtype of HPS with minimal cutaneous and ocular depigmentation. The HPS-3 gene encodes a novel protein of unknown function with a predicted molecular weight of 114 kd. To assess the role of the HPS3 protein in melanization, cultured melanocytes developed from HPS-3 patients were evaluated biochemically and histologically for activity and localization of melanocyte-specific proteins. Endogenous tyrosinase activity of HPS-3 melanocytes was substantial, but tyrosinase activity and melanin synthesis was suppressed in intact melanocytes. However, the level of suppression, as well as extent to which up-regulation by isobutylmethylxanthine and cholera toxin was muted, was less that in HPS-1 melanocytes. Ultrastructurally, HPS-3 melanocytes contained morphologically normal melanosomes, predominantly of stage I and II with minimal stage III and few stage IV melanosomes. Dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) histochemistry demonstrated an increase in melanization of melanosomes. Unique to HPS-3 melanocytes were numerous DOPA-positive 50-nm vesicles and tubular elements present throughout the cell body and dendrites. Tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (Tyrp1), dopachrome tautomerase (Dct), and LAMP1 and 3 localization in HPS-3 melanocytes, as evaluated by immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy, demonstrated a fine, floccular distribution in contrast to the coarse, granular distribution characteristic of control melanocytes. The localization profile of other proteins expressed by melanocytes (ie, Silver/Pmel17, Melan-A/MART-1, LAMP2, Rab 27, transferrin, c-kit, adaptin-3, and the HPS1 protein) appeared normal. These results suggest that a specific subset of melanocyte proteins are aberrantly trafficked throughout the HPS-3 melanocyte and may be responsible for the reduction in melanin synthesis.

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