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J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 8;280(14):14006-16. Epub 2005 Jan 28.

MART-1 is required for the function of the melanosomal matrix protein PMEL17/GP100 and the maturation of melanosomes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cell Biology, NCI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


More than 125 genes that regulate pigmentation have been identified to date. Of those, MART-1 has been widely studied as a melanoma-specific antigen and as a melanosome-specific marker. Whereas the functions of other melanosomal proteins, such as tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1, dopachrome tautomerase, and Pmel17, are known, the function of MART-1 in melanogenesis, is unclear. A role for MART-1 in pigmentation is expected because its expression pattern and subcellular distribution is quite similar to the other melanosomal proteins and usually correlates with melanin content. We investigated the function of MART-1 using a multidisciplinary approach, including the use of siRNA to inhibit MART-1 function and the use of transfection to re-express MART-1 in MART-1-negative cells. We show that MART-1 forms a complex with Pmel17 and affects its expression, stability, trafficking, and the processing which is required for melanosome structure and maturation. We conclude that MART-1 is indispensable for Pmel17 function and thus plays an important role in regulating mammalian pigmentation.

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