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MART-1 is required for the function of the melanosomal matrix protein PMEL17/GP100 and the maturation of melanosomes.

Hoashi T., Watabe H., Muller J., Yamaguchi Y., Vieira W.D., Hearing V.J.

More than 125 genes that regulate pigmentation have been identified to date. Of those, MART-1 has been widely studied as a melanoma-specific antigen and as a melanosome-specific marker. Whereas the functions of other melanosomal proteins, such as tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1, dopachrome tautomerase, and Pmel17, are known, the function of MART-1 in melanogenesis, is unclear. A role for MART-1 in pigmentation is expected because its expression pattern and subcellular distribution is quite similar to the other melanosomal proteins and usually correlates with melanin content. We investigated the function of MART-1 using a multidisciplinary approach, including the use of siRNA to inhibit MART-1 function and the use of transfection to re-express MART-1 in MART-1-negative cells. We show that MART-1 forms a complex with Pmel17 and affects its expression, stability, trafficking, and the processing which is required for melanosome structure and maturation. We conclude that MART-1 is indispensable for Pmel17 function and thus plays an important role in regulating mammalian pigmentation.

J. Biol. Chem. 280:14006-14016(2005) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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