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J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Mar;114(3):438-43.

Kinesin participates in melanosomal movement along melanocyte dendrites.

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Departments of Dermatology and Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118-2394, USA.


Movement of melanosomes along melanocyte dendrites is necessary for the transfer of melanin pigment from melanocytes to basal and suprabasal keratinocytes, an event critical to epidermal photoprotection and maintenance of normal skin color. Recent murine data suggest that in melanocyte dendrites the microtubule-associated melanosome movement is bidirectional and that actin-associated myosin V secures the peripheral melanosomes, preparing them to be transferred to surrounding keratinocytes. We now report that human melanocytes express high levels of kinesin, a molecule that participates in microtubule-associated transport of organelles in other cell types, and that ultrastructurally kinesin molecules are closely associated with melanosomes. To determine whether kinesin participates in melanosomal transport, cultured melanocytes were treated with sense or antisense oligonucleotides complementary to kinesin heavy chain sequences. Antisense oligonucleotides decreased kinesin protein levels and inhibited the bidirectional movement of the melanosomes, promoting their backward movement. Furthermore, guinea pigs were exposed to ultraviolet B irradiation, known to enhance transport of melanosomes from melanocytes to epidermal keratinocytes, and then were treated with kinesin sense or antisense oligonucleotides. The areas that were treated with kinesin antisense oligonucleotides showed significantly less pigmentation clinically and histologically than control (sense) oligonucleotide-treated areas. As observed ultrastructurally, in antisense-treated areas melanosomes remained in melanocyte dendrites but over several days were not transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes. Our study supports a major role for kinesin in microtubule-associated anterograde melanosomal transport in human melanocyte dendrites.

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