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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 16;105(50):19726-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803488105. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

Electron tomography of early melanosomes: implications for melanogenesis and the generation of fibrillar amyloid sheets.

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  • 1Institut Curie, Centre de Recherche, and Unité Mixte de Recherche 144, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, F-75248 Paris, France.


Melanosomes are lysosome-related organelles (LROs) in which melanins are synthesized and stored. Early stage melanosomes are characterized morphologically by intralumenal fibrils upon which melanins are deposited in later stages. The integral membrane protein Pmel17 is a component of the fibrils, can nucleate fibril formation in the absence of other pigment cell-specific proteins, and forms amyloid-like fibrils in vitro. Before fibril formation Pmel17 traffics through multivesicular endosomal compartments, but how these compartments participate in downstream events leading to fibril formation is not fully known. By using high-pressure freezing of MNT-1 melanoma cells and freeze substitution to optimize ultrastructural preservation followed by double tilt 3D electron tomography, we show that the amyloid-like fibrils begin to form in multivesicular compartments, where they radiate from the luminal side of intralumenal membrane vesicles. The fibrils in fully formed stage II premelanosomes organize into sheet-like arrays and exclude the remaining intralumenal vesicles, which are smaller and often in continuity with the limiting membrane. These observations indicate that premelanosome fibrils form in association with intralumenal endosomal membranes. We suggest that similar processes regulate amyloid formation in pathological models.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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