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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2009 Dec;45(10):577-83. doi: 10.1007/s11626-009-9232-3.

Purification and growth of melanocortin 1 receptor (Mc1r)- defective primary murine melanocytes is dependent on stem cell factor (SFC) from keratinocyte-conditioned media.

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The Graduate Center for Toxicology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


The melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) is a transmembrane G(s)-coupled surface protein found on melanocytes that binds melanocyte-stimulating hormone and mediates activation of adenylyl cyclase and generation of the second messenger cyclic AMP (cAMP). MC1R regulates growth and differentiation of melanocytes and protects against carcinogenesis. Persons with loss-offunction polymorphisms of MC1R tend to be UV-sensitive (fair-skinned and with a poor tanning response) and are at high risk for melanoma. Mechanistic studies of the role of MC1R in melanocytic UV responses, however, have been hindered in part because Mc1r-defective primary murine melanocytes have been difficult to culture in vitro. Until now, effective growth of murine melanocytes has depended on cAMP stimulation with adenylyl cyclase-activating or phosphodiesterase-inhibiting agents. However, rescuing cAMP in the setting of defective MC1R signaling would be expected to confound experiments directly testing MC1R function on melanocytic UV responses. In this paper, we report a novel method of culturing primary murine melanocytes in the absence of pharmacologic cAMP stimulation by incorporating conditioned supernatants containing stem cell factor derived from primary keratinocytes. Importantly, this method seems to permit similar pigment expression by cultured melanocytes as that found in the skin of their parental murine strains. This novel approach will allow mechanistic investigation into MC1R's role in the protection against UV-mediated carcinogenesis and determination of the role of melanin pigment subtypes on UV-mediated melanocyte responses.

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