Genetic and epigenetic control of the proliferation and differentiation of mouse epidermal melanocytes in culture

Pigment Cell Res. 1999 Jun;12(3):147-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0749.1999.tb00508.x.


Serum-free culture of epidermal cell suspensions from neonatal skin of mice of strain C57BL/10JHir (B10) showed that alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) was involved in regulating the differentiation of melanocytes by inducing tyrosinase activity, melanosome formation, and dendritogenesis. Dibutyryl adenosine 3':5'-cyclic monophosphate (DBcAMP) similarly induced the differentiation of melanocytes. On the other hand, DBcAMP induced the proliferation of epidermal melanocytes in culture in the presence of keratinocytes. Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was also shown to stimulate the sustained proliferation of undifferentiated melanoblasts in the presence of DBcAMP and keratinocytes. These results suggest that the proliferation and differentiation of mouse epidermal melanoblasts and melanocytes in culture are regulated by the three factors; namely, cAMP, bFGF, and keratinocyte-derived factors. Moreover, serum-free primary culture of mouse epidermal melanocytes derived from B10 congenic mice, which carry various coat color genes, showed that the coat color genes were involved in regulating the proliferation and differentiation of mouse epidermal melanocytes by controlling the proliferative rate, melanosome formation and maturation, and melanosome distribution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Techniques / methods
  • Epidermis / growth & development*
  • Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones / metabolism
  • Melanocytes / physiology*
  • Melanocytes / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL


  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones