Melanins and Melanogenesis by Giuseppe Prota

By Giuseppe Prota

"This quantity covers all features of melanin pigmentation, delivering a concise, finished photo of recent wisdom received on the frontiers of analysis. It attracts seriously at the author's 30-year job within the box and his carrying on with paintings with experts of extensively varied disciplines. The middle of the amount offers with the constitution, physicochemical houses, and biosynthesis of the key sessions of melanin Read more...

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These spectral changes were interpreted in terms of a reaction scheme involving the generation of a dopachrome-peptide that rearranges to the corresponding 5,6-dihydroxyindole derivative, which is relatively stable to tyrosinase (Fig. 9). Similar results were obtained by Yasunobu et al (1959) on a number of tyrosine-containing peptides. Depend­ ing on whether tyrosyl residues are at the N terminus, at the C terminus, or in the middle, a dopachrome absorption curve (in the former case) or a dopaquinone absorption pattern (in the latter cases) was observed, consistent with the proposed oxidation scheme.

MELANOSOMES A. ONTOGENESIS Within melanin-producing cells, pigment formation appears to take place in a distinct cytoplasmatic organelle, known as the melanosome, containing struc­ tural proteins, tyrosinase, and possibly other functional proteins. Generally speaking, two basic types of melanosomes are formed in melanocytes: the black or brown eumelanosome and the yellow or reddish pheomelanosome. 28 2. MELANIN-PRODUCING CELLS The former is a rather large ellipsoidal organelle with a highly ordered protein matrix, whereas the latter looks spherical and is composed of loosely ag­ gregated small granules (Parakkal, 1967).

These are found dense­ ly packaged in the vacuoles which eventually empty into the lumen of the gland and are transferred to the sac, where they accumulate to form the black ink that the animal discharges when frightened. Surprisingly enough, no biological study of any significance was carried out in subsequent years until the 1960s, when a reexamination by Szabo (1965) led to a reappraisal of the ink gland as a most perfect biological model of a melanin-producing system. Its value in studies of melanogenesis depends on the fact that nearly all the ink gland cells are actively engaged in melanin synthesis, whereas only about 10% or less of the cells in melanoma and less than 1% of the cells in the skin may produce melanin.

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