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J Invest Dermatol. 2012 May;132(5):1443-51. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.478. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

ORAI1 Ca(2+) channels control endothelin-1-induced mitogenesis and melanogenesis in primary human melanocytes.

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Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, University Hospital of the Saarland, Homburg, Germany.


UV radiation of the skin triggers keratinocytes to secrete endothelin-1 (ET-1) that binds to endothelin receptors on neighboring melanocytes. Melanocytes respond with a prolonged increase in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)), which is necessary for proliferation and melanogenesis. A major fraction of the Ca(2+) signal is caused by entry through Ca(2+)-permeable channels of unknown identity in the plasma membrane. ORAI Ca(2+) channels are molecular determinants of Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channels and are expressed in many tissues. Here, we show that ORAI1-3 and their activating partners stromal interaction molecules 1 and 2 (STIM1 and STIM2) are expressed in human melanocytes. Although ORAI1 is the predominant ORAI isoform, STIM2 mRNA expression exceeds STIM1. Inhibition of ORAI1 by 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB) or downregulation of ORAI1 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) reduced Ca(2+) entry and CRAC current amplitudes in activated melanocytes. In addition, suppression of ORAI1 caused reduction in the ET-1-induced cellular viability, melanin synthesis, and tyrosinase activity. Our results imply a role for ORAI1 channels in skin pigmentation and their potential involvement in UV-induced stress responses of the human skin.

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