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J Biol Chem. 2008 Feb 29;283(9):5486-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M707521200. Epub 2007 Dec 28.

SLC24A5 encodes a trans-Golgi network protein with potassium-dependent sodium-calcium exchange activity that regulates human epidermal melanogenesis.

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Unilever Corporate Research, Colworth Science Park, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, MK44 1LQ, England, United Kingdom.


A non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism in the human SLC24A5 gene is associated with natural human skin color variation. Multiple sequence alignments predict that this gene encodes a member of the potassium-dependent sodium-calcium exchanger family denoted NCKX5. In cultured human epidermal melanocytes we show using affinity-purified antisera that native human NCKX5 runs as a triplet of approximately 43 kDa on SDS-PAGE and is partially localized to the trans-Golgi network. Removal of the NCKX5 protein through small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown disrupts melanogenesis in human and murine melanocytes, causing a significant reduction in melanin pigment production. Using a heterologous expression system, we confirm for the first time that NCKX5 possesses the predicted exchanger activity. Site-directed mutagenesis of NCKX5 and NCKX2 in this system reveals that the non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism in SLC24A5 alters a residue that is important for NCKX5 and NCKX2 activity. We suggest that NCKX5 directly regulates human epidermal melanogenesis and natural skin color through its intracellular potassium-dependent exchanger activity.

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