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J Cell Physiol. 2006 Mar;206(3):843-8.

Ferritin light chain down-modulation generates depigmentation in human metastatic melanoma cells by influencing tyrosinase maturation.

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San Gallicano Dermatological Institute, Via E. Chianesi, Rome, Italy.


Recently, after the identification of ferritin light chain (L-ferritin) gene and protein over-expression in human metastatic melanoma cells, we engineered, starting from the LM metastatic melanoma cell line, clones in which L-ferritin gene expression was down-regulated by the stable expression of a specific antisense construct. The present investigation started from the observation that L-ferritin down-regulated LM cells displayed a less pigmented phenotype, confirmed by a major decrease of total melanin, when compared to control LM cells. This finding was accompanied by a dramatic decrease in tyrosinase activity, which was not paralleled by a concomitant reduction of the amount of tyrosinase specific mRNA. Western blot analysis of tyrosinase in control LM cells displayed a pattern, which corresponds to the progressive glycosylation of the native protein up to the 80 kDa form, considered the functional one. Tyrosinase pattern assayed in L-ferritin down-regulated LM cells showed the remarkable absence of the 80 kDa form and a prevalence of endoglycosidase H (endo H)-sensitive immature (70 kDa) tyrosinase, accumulated in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), as confirmed by confocal microscopy analysis. These results demonstrate that, in a human metastatic melanoma cell line, the stress condition promoted by L-ferritin down-modulation, can substantially influence proper maturation of tyrosinase.

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