An intracellular anion channel critical for pigmentation.
ABSTRACT: Intracellular ion channels are essential regulators of organellar and cellular function, yet the molecular identity and physiological role of many of these channels remains elusive. In particular, no ion channel has been characterized in melanosomes, organelles that produce and store the major mammalian pigment melanin. Defects in melanosome function cause albinism, characterized by vision and pigmentation deficits, impaired retinal development, and increased susceptibility to skin and eye cancers. The most common form of albinism is caused by mutations in oculocutaneous albinism II (OCA2), a melanosome-specific transmembrane protein with unknown function. Here we used direct patch-clamp of skin and eye melanosomes to identify a novel chloride-selective anion conductance mediated by OCA2 and required for melanin production. Expression of OCA2 increases organelle pH, suggesting that the chloride channel might regulate melanin synthesis by modulating melanosome pH. Thus, a melanosomal anion channel that requires OCA2 is essential for skin and eye pigmentation.
Project description:Melanins are synthesized in melanocytes within specialized organelles called melanosomes. Numerous studies have shown that the pH of melanosome plays a key role in the regulation of melanin synthesis. However, until now, acute regulation of melanosome pH by a physiological stimulus has never been demonstrated. In the present study, we show that the activation of the cAMP pathway by alphaMSH or forskolin leads to an alkalinization of melanosomes and a concomitant regulation of vacuolar ATPases and ion transporters of the solute carrier family. The solute carrier family members include SLC45A2, which is mutated in oculocutaneous albinism type IV, SLC24A4 and SLC24A5, proteins implicated in the control of eye, hair, and skin pigmentation, and the P protein, encoded by the oculocutaneous albinism type II locus. Interestingly, H89, a pharmacological inhibitor of protein kinase A (PKA), prevents the cAMP-induced pigmentation and induces acidification of melanosomes. The drastic depigmenting effect of H89 is not due to an inhibition of tyrosinase expression. Indeed, H89 blocks the induction of melanogenesis induced by LY294002, a potent inhibitor of the PI 3-kinase pathway, without any effect on tyrosinase expression. Furthermore, PKA is not involved in the inhibition of pigmentation promoted by H89 because LY294002 induces pigmentation independently of PKA. Also, other PKA inhibitors do not affect pigmentation. Taken together, our results strengthen the support for a key role of melanosome pH in the regulation of melanin synthesis and, for the first time, demonstrate that melanosome pH is regulated by cAMP and alphaMSH. Notably, these are both mediators of the response to solar UV radiation, the main physiological stimulus of skin pigmentation.
Project description:Intracellular organelles mediate complex cellular functions that often require ion transport across their membranes. Melanosomes are organelles responsible for the synthesis of the major mammalian pigment melanin. Defects in melanin synthesis result in pigmentation defects, visual deficits, and increased susceptibility to skin and eye cancers. Although genes encoding putative melanosomal ion transporters have been identified as key regulators of melanin synthesis, melanosome ion transport and its contribution to pigmentation remain poorly understood. Here we identify two-pore channel 2 (TPC2) as the first reported melanosomal cation conductance by directly patch-clamping skin and eye melanosomes. TPC2 has been implicated in human pigmentation and melanoma, but the molecular mechanism mediating this function was entirely unknown. We demonstrate that the vesicular signaling lipid phosphatidylinositol bisphosphate PI(3,5)P2 modulates TPC2 activity to control melanosomal membrane potential, pH, and regulate pigmentation.
Project description:Melanosomes are the specialized intracellular organelles of pigment cells devoted to the synthesis, storage and transport of melanin pigments, which are responsible for most visible pigmentation in mammals and other vertebrates. As a direct consequence, any genetic mutation resulting in alteration of melanosomal function, either because affecting pigment cell survival, migration and differentiation, or because interfering with melanosome biogenesis, transport and transfer to keratinocytes, is immediately translated into color variations of skin, fur, hair or eyes. Thus, over 100 genes and proteins have been identified as pigmentary determinants in mammals, providing us with a deep understanding of this biological system, which functions by using mechanisms and processes that have parallels in other tissues and organs. In particular, many genes implicated in melanosome biogenesis have been characterized, so that melanosomes represent an incredible source of information and a model for organelles belonging to the secretory pathway. Furthermore, the function of melanosomes can be associated with common physiological phenotypes, such as variation of pigmentation among individuals, and with rare pathological conditions, such as albinism, characterized by severe visual defects. Among the most relevant mechanisms operating in melanosome biogenesis are the signal transduction pathways mediated by two peculiar G protein-coupled receptors: the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R), involved in the fair skin/red hair phenotype and skin cancer; and OA1 (GPR143), whose loss-of-function results in X-linked ocular albinism. This review will focus on the most recent novelties regarding the functioning of these two receptors, by highlighting emerging signaling mechanisms and general implications for cell biology and pathology.
Project description:The production of melanin increases skin pigmentation and reduces the risk of skin cancer. Melanin production depends on the pH of melanosomes, which are more acidic in lighter-skinned than in darker-skinned people. We showed that inhibition of soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC) controlled pigmentation by increasing the pH of melanosomes both in cells and in vivo. Distinct from the canonical melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R)-dependent cAMP pathway that controls pigmentation by altering gene expression, we found that inhibition of sAC increased pigmentation by increasing the activity of tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme in melanin synthesis, which is more active at basic pH. We demonstrated that the effect of sAC activity on pH and melanin production in human melanocytes depended on the skin color of the donor. Last, we identified sAC inhibitors as a new class of drugs that increase melanosome pH and pigmentation in vivo, suggesting that pharmacologic inhibition of this pathway may affect skin cancer risk or pigmentation conditions.
Project description:Melanosomes are unique organelles in melanocytes that produce melanin, the pigment for skin, hair, and eye color. Tyrosinase is the essential and rate-limiting enzyme for melanin production, that strictly requires neutral pH for activity. pH maintenance is a result of the combinational function of multiple ion transport proteins. Thus, ion homeostasis in melanosomes is crucial for melanin synthesis. Defect of the ion transport system causes various pigmentation phenotypes, from mild effect to severe disorders such as albinism. In this review, we summarize the up-to-date knowledge of the ion transport system, such as transport function, structure, and the physiological roles and mechanisms of the ion transport proteins in melanosomes. In addition, we propose a model of melanosomal ion transport system-how the functional coupling of multiple transport proteins modulates and maintains ion homeostasis. We discuss melanin synthesis in terms of the ion transport system.
Project description:Multiple cave populations of the teleost Astyanax mexicanus have repeatedly reduced or lost eye and body pigmentation during adaptation to dark caves. Albinism, the complete absence of melanin pigmentation, is controlled by loss-of-function mutations in the oca2 gene. The mutation is accompanied by an increase in the melanin synthesis precursor l-tyrosine, which is also a precursor for catecholamine synthesis. In this study, we show a relationship between pigmentation loss, enhanced catecholamine synthesis and responsiveness to anaesthesia, determined as a proxy for catecholamine-related behaviours. We demonstrate that anaesthesia resistance (AR) is enhanced in multiple depigmented and albino cavefish (CF), inversely proportional to the degree of pigmentation loss, controlled by the oca2 gene, and can be modulated by experimental manipulations of l-tyrosine or the catecholamine norepinephrine (NE). Moreover, NE is increased in the brains of multiple albino and depigmented CF relative to surface fish. The results provide new insights into the evolution of pigment modification because NE controls a suite of adaptive behaviours similar to AR that may represent a target of natural selection. Thus, understanding the relationship between loss of pigmentation and AR may provide insight into the role of natural selection in the evolution of albinism via a melanin-catecholamine trade-off.
Project description:Purpose:Oral nitisinone has been shown to increase fur and ocular pigmentation in a mouse model of oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) due to hypomorphic mutations in tyrosinase (TYR), OCA1B. This study determines if nitisinone can improve ocular and/or fur pigmentation in a mouse model of OCA type 3 (OCA3), caused by mutation of the tyrosinase-related protein 1 (Tyrp1) gene. Methods:Mice homozygous for a null allele in the Tyrp1 gene (C57BL/6J-Tyrp1 b-J/J) were treated with 8 mg/kg nitisinone or vehicle every other day by oral gavage. Changes in fur and ocular melanin pigmentation were monitored. Mature ocular melanosome number and size were quantified in pigmented ocular structures by electron microscopy. Results:C57BL/6J-Tyrp1 b-J/J mice carry a novel c.403T>A; 404delG mutation in Tyrp1, predicted to result in premature truncation of the TYRP1 protein. Nitisinone treatment resulted in an approximately 7-fold increase in plasma tyrosine concentrations without overt toxicity. After 1 month of treatment, no change in the color of fur or pigmented ocular structures was observed. The distribution of melanosome cross-sectional area was unchanged in ocular tissues. There was no significant difference in the number of pigmented melanosomes in the RPE/choroid of nitisinone-treated and control groups. However, there was a significant difference in the number of pigmented melanosomes in the iris. Conclusions:Treatment of a mouse model of OCA3 with oral nitisinone did not have a favorable clinical effect on melanin production and minimally affected the number of pigmented melanosomes in the iris stroma. As such, treatment of OCA3 patients with nitisinone is unlikely to be therapeutic.
Project description:Amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma is a clinicopathologic subtype with absent or minimal melanin. This study assessed previously reported coding variants in albinism genes (TYR, OCA2, TYRP1, SLC45A2, SLC24A5, LRMDA) and common intronic, regulatory variants of OCA2 in individuals with amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma, pigmented melanoma cases and controls. Exome sequencing was available for 28 individuals with amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma and 303 individuals with pigmented melanoma, which were compared to whole exome data from 1144 Australian controls. Microarray genotyping was available for a further 17 amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma, 86 pigmented melanoma, 147 melanoma cases (pigmentation unknown) and 652 unaffected controls. Rare deleterious variants in TYR/OCA1 were more common in amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma cases than pigmented melanoma cases (set mixed model association tests P = 0.0088). The OCA2 hypomorphic allele p.V443I was more common in melanoma cases (1.8%) than controls (1.0%, X2 P = 0.02), and more so in amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma (4.4%, X2 P = 0.007). No amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma cases carried an eye and skin darkening haplotype of OCA2 (including rs7174027), present in 7.1% of pigmented melanoma cases (P = 0.0005) and 9.4% controls. Variants in TYR and OCA2 may play a role in amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma susceptibility. We suggest that somatic loss of function at these loci could contribute to the loss of tumor pigmentation, consistent with this we found a higher rate of somatic mutation in TYR/OCA2 in amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma vs pigmented melanoma samples (28.6% vs 3.0%; P = 0.021) from The Cancer Genome Atlas Skin Cutaneous Melanoma collection.
Project description:Mutation of the tyrosinase gene (TYR) causes oculocutaneous albinism, type 1 (OCA1), a condition characterized by reduced skin and eye melanin pigmentation and by vision loss. The retinal pigment epithelium influences postnatal visual development. Therefore, increasing ocular pigmentation in patients with OCA1 might enhance visual function. There are 2 forms of OCA1, OCA-1A and OCA-1B. Individuals with the former lack functional tyrosinase and therefore lack melanin, while individuals with the latter produce some melanin. We hypothesized that increasing plasma tyrosine concentrations using nitisinone, an FDA-approved inhibitor of tyrosine degradation, could stabilize tyrosinase and improve pigmentation in individuals with OCA1. Here, we tested this hypothesis in mice homozygous for either the Tyrc-2J null allele or the Tyrc-h allele, which model OCA-1A and OCA-1B, respectively. Only nitisinone-treated Tyrc-h/c-h mice manifested increased pigmentation in their fur and irides and had more pigmented melanosomes. High levels of tyrosine improved the stability and enzymatic function of the Tyrc-h protein and also increased overall melanin levels in melanocytes from a human with OCA-1B. These results suggest that the use of nitisinone in OCA-1B patients could improve their pigmentation and potentially ameliorate vision loss.
Project description:Through a process known as melanogenesis, melanocyte produces melanin in specialized organelles termed melanosomes, which regulates pigmentation of the skin, eyes, and hair. Gp96 is a constitutively expressed heat shock protein in the endoplasmic reticulum whose expression is further upregulated upon ultraviolet irradiation. However, the roles and mechanisms of this chaperone in pigmentation biology are unknown. In this study, we found that knockdown of gp96 by RNA interference significantly perturbed melanin synthesis and blocked late melanosome maturation. Gp96 knockdown did not impair the expression of tyrosinase, an essential enzyme in melanin synthesis, but compromised its catalytic activity and melanosome translocation. Further, mice with melanocyte-specific deletion of gp96 displayed decreased pigmentation. A mechanistic study revealed that the defect in melanogenesis can be rescued by activation of the canonical Wnt pathway, consistent with the critical roles of gp96 in chaperoning Wnt-coreceptor LRP6. Thus, this work uncovered the essential role of gp96 in regulating melanogenesis.