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In previous work we described a novel culture technique using a cholera toxin and PMA-free medium Mel-mix for obtaining pure melanocyte cultures from human adult epidermis. In Mel-mix medium the cultured melanocytes are bipolar, unpigmented and highly proliferative. Further characterization of the cultured melanocytes revealed the disappearance of c-Kit and TRP-1 and induction of nestin expression, indicating that melanocytes dedifferentiated in this in vitro culture.
These dedifferentiated, easily accessible cultured melanocytes provide a good model for studying melanocyte differentiation and possibly transdifferentiation.
Because melanocytes in Mel-mix medium can be cultured with human serum as the only supplement, this culture system is also suitable for autologous cell transplantation. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. In vertebrates, melanocytes arise from the neural crest .
Melanoblasts are unpigmented cells containing only immature melanosomes that lack functional tyrosinase, the critical enzyme of melanin synthesis . Fully differentiated melanocytes characterized by tyrosinase TYR , tyrosinase related protein-1 and -2 TRP-1 and TRP-2 activities as well as by numerous mature melanosomes and well-developed dendrites, are located mainly in the epidermis, dermis and hair bulb . Examination of melanoblasts is important to analyze basic mechanisms of cell differentiation, and to study the pathomechanisms of melanoma and genetic disorders of melanocyte development .