Melanosome transfer to keratinocyte in the chicken embryonic skin is mediated by vesicle release associated with Rho-regulated membrane blebbing
OPEN Scientific reports | 3 Dec 2016
R Tadokoro, H Murai, KI Sakai, T Okui, Y Yokota and Y Takahashi
During skin pigmentation in amniotes, melanin synthesized in the melanocyte is transferred to keratinocytes by a particle called the melanosome. Previous studies, mostly using dissociated cultured cells, have proposed several different models that explain how the melanosome transfer is achieved. Here, using a technique that labels the plasma membrane of melanocytes within a three-dimensional system that mimics natural tissues, we have visualized the plasma membrane of melanocytes with EGFP in chicken embryonic skin. Confocal time-lapse microscopy reveals that the melanosome transfer is mediated, at least in part, by vesicles produced by plasma membrane. Unexpectedly, the vesicle release is accompanied by the membrane blebbing of melanocytes. Blebs that have encapsulated a melanosome are pinched off to become vesicles, and these melanosome-containing vesicles are finally engulfed by neighboring keratinocytes. For both the membrane blebbing and vesicle release, Rho small GTPase is essential. We further show that the membrane vesicle-mediated melanosome transfer plays a significant role in the skin pigmentation. Given that the skin pigmentation in inter-feather spaces in chickens is similar to that in inter-hair spaces of humans, our findings should have important consequences in cosmetic medicine.
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