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J Dermatol Sci. 1997 Mar;14(3):199-206.

Comparison of the melanogenesis in human black and light brown melanocytes.

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Shiseido Research Center, Yokohama, Japan.


We examined how and to what extent the constitution of melanin and the expression, as well as the activity, of melanosomal proteins influence the production of melanin pigment by human black and light brown melanocytes, Mel (b) cells and Mel (l) cells, respectively. Melanin pigment in Mel (b) and Mel (l) cells consisted of a mixture of eumelanin and pheomelanin, and Mel (b) cells contained a larger amount. The signal intensity ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin was similar in both cell types, though the two cell types differed in appearance. Tyrosinase activity and the amount of tyrosinase-related protein (TRP-1) of Mel (b) cells were higher than those of Mel (l) cells. Dopachrome tautomerase (DCT) activity and the amount of 6H5MICA were reduced in Mel (b) cells in comparison with Mel (l) cells. No significant difference in DHICA-converting activity or catechol-O-methyltransferase activity was found between Mel (b) and Mel (l) cells. There was no correlation between DHICA-converting activity and amount of TRP-1. These results suggest that the difference in the pigmentation of the two human melanocyte cell lines, Mel (b) and Mel (l), is derived from differences in the activity and expression of tyrosinase, TRP-1 and DCT, which affect the content and constitution of melanin polymers.

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