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J Cell Physiol. 1988 Jan;134(1):149-54.

Comparison of tyrosinase levels in amelanotic and melanotic melanoma cell cultures by a competitive enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay and by immunotitration analysis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City 73190.


Melanogenesis in mammalian pigment cells is regulated by changes in the activity of tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme for melanin synthesis. Because recent evidence suggests that this enzyme may exist in pigment cells in both active and inactive stages, a competitive enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay (ELISA) was developed to compare tyrosinase levels in amelanotic and melanotic melanoma cell clones. The melanotic cell line used for this study, MEL-11A, had basal tyrosinase levels approximately 40 times that of the amelanotic cell line, AM-7. Both cell lines responded to melanocyte-stimulating hormone by demonstrating large increases in tyrosinase activity. For competitive ELISA analysis of tyrosinase levels in these two clones, microtiter plates were coated with purified tyrosinase, and trypsinized cell extracts were tested for their ability to compete with bound tyrosinase for antibody binding. Although tyrosinase activity in the amelanotic clone was 1/40 that of the melanotic clone, immunoreactive tyrosinase levels in AM-7 cells were found to be approximately one-half that present in the melanotic clone. Additional evidence for the presence of an inactive (or at least, catalytically less active) enzyme in AM-7 cells was obtained from immunotitration analysis of tyrosinase in cell extracts from both cell lines. These results suggest that at least some amelanotic melanoma cells may contain significant levels of catalytically inactive tyrosinase molecules and that the level of pigmentation in mammalian melanocytes may be regulated by a tyrosinase activation process.

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