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Pigment Cell Res. 2001 Dec;14(6):445-9.

Volume changes of individual melanosomes measured by scanning force microscopy.

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1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Linköping University, Sweden. marte@ifm.liu.se

Abstract

Black pigment cells, melanophores, e.g. located in the epidermis and dermis of frogs, are large flat cells having intracellular black pigment granules, called melanosomes. Due to a large size, high optical contrast, and quick response to drugs, melanophores are attractive as biosensors as well as for model studies of intracellular processes; e.g. organelle transport and G-protein coupled receptors. The geometry of melanosomes from African clawed toad, Xenopus laevis, has been measured using scanning force microscopy (SFM). Three-dimensional images from SFM were used to measure height, width, and length of the melanosomes (100 from aggregated cells and 100 from dispersed cells). The volumes of melanosomes isolated from aggregated and dispersed melanophores were significantly different (P < 0.05, n=200). The average ellipsoidal volume was 0.14+/-0.01 (aggregated) and 0.17+/-0.01 microm3 (dispersed), a difference of 18%. The average major diameter was 810+/-20 and 880+/-20 nm for aggregated and dispersed melanosomes, respectively. To our knowledge, this is the first time SFM has been used to study melanosomes. This may provide an alternative non-destructive technique that may be particularly suitable for studying morphological aspects of various melanin granules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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