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Pigment Cell Res. 2000 Feb;13(1):4-14.

The regulation of normal melanocyte proliferation.

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Department of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8059, USA.


In vitro, normal human melanocytes require synergistic mitogens, in addition to the common growth factors present in serum, in order to proliferate. The peptide growth factors that confer stimulation are fibroblast growth factors (such as bFGF/FGF2), hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF), mast/stem cell factor (M/SCF), endothelins (such as ET-1) and melanotropin (MSH). The proper function of these factors and their cognate receptors is likely to be important in vivo, as all five ligands are produced in the skin, and disruption of their normal function, by elimination due to deletions or mutations, or overproduction due to ectopic expression, disrupts the normal distribution of melanocytes. The synergistic growth factors activate intracellular signal transduction cascades and maintain the intermediate effectors at optimal levels and duration required for nuclear translocation and modification of transcription factors. The consequent induction of immediate-early response genes, such as cyclins, and subsequent activation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK4, CDK6 and CDK2) inactivates the retinoblastoma family of proteins (pRb, p107 and p130, together termed pocket proteins), and releases their suppressive association with E2F transcription factors. Molecular events that disrupt this tight control of pocket proteins and cause their inactivation, increase E2F transcriptional activity and confer autonomous growth on melanocytes.

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