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J Invest Dermatol. 2002 Jan;118(1):73-8.

Increase of pro-opiomelanocortin mRNA prior to tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein 1, dopachrome tautomerase, Pmel-17/gp100, and P-protein mRNA in human skin after ultraviolet B irradiation.

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R&D Department of Dermatological Sciences, POLA Chemical Industries, Inc., Totsuka-ku, Yokohama, Japan.


In ultraviolet-induced tanning, the protein levels of various gene products critical for pigmentation (including tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein-1) are increased in response to ultraviolet B irradiation, but changes in mRNA levels of these factors have not been investigated in vivo. We have established an in situ hybridization technique to investigate mRNA levels of pro-opiomelanocortin, tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1, dopachrome tautomerase, P-protein, Pmel-17/gp100, and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor, and have analyzed the changes in mRNA levels in the ultraviolet B-exposed skin in vivo. The right or left forearm of each volunteer was irradiated with ultraviolet B, and skin biopsies were obtained at 2 and 5 d postirradiation. mRNA level of pro- opiomelanocortin was increased 2 d after ultraviolet B irradiation, and returned to a near-basal level after 5 d, whereas the mRNA levels of tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1, dopachrome tautomerase, P-protein, and Pmel-17/gp100 showed some or no increase at 2 d, but were significantly increased 5 d after ultraviolet B irradiation. Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor mRNA was slightly increased on days 2 and 5 after ultraviolet B irradiation. Our results suggest that the mechanism of the tanning response of human skin may involve the transcriptional regulation of certain pigmentary genes, and that pro-opiomelanocortin-derived melanocortins such as alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and adrenocorticotropic hormone may play a part in regulating these genes in vivo.

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