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J Cell Biol. 2020 Jan 6;219(1). pii: e201902014. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201902014.

Ca2+ transients in melanocyte dendrites and dendritic spine-like structures evoked by cell-to-cell signaling.

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Laboratory of Cellular Biophysics, Rockefeller University, New York, NY.


Melanocytes are the neural crest-derived pigment-producing cells of the skin that possess dendrites. Yet little is known about how melanocyte dendrites receive and process information from neighboring cells. Here, using a co-culture system to interrogate the interaction between melanocyte dendrites and keratinocytes, we show that signals from neighboring keratinocytes trigger local compartmentalized Ca2+ transients within the melanocyte dendrites. The localized dendritic Ca2+ transients could be triggered by two keratinocyte-secreted factors, endothelin and acetylcholine, which acted via specific melanocyte receptors. Furthermore, compartmentalized Ca2+ transients were also generated on discrete dendritic spine-like structures on the melanocytes. These spines were also present in intact human skin. Our findings provide insights into how melanocyte dendrites communicate with neighboring cells and offer a new model system for studying compartmentalized signaling in dendritic structures.


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