Assembly, target-signaling and intracellular transport of tyrosinase gene family proteins in the initial stage of melanosome biogenesis

Pigment Cell Res. 2000 Aug;13(4):222-9. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0749.2000.130403.x.


Assembly, target-signaling and transport of tyrosinase gene family proteins at the initial stage of melanosome biogenesis are reviewed based on our own discoveries. Melanosome biogenesis involves four stages of maturation with distinct morphological and biochemical characteristics that reflect distinct processes of the biosynthesis of structural and enzymatic proteins, subsequent structural organization and melanin deposition occurring in these particular cellular compartments. The melanosomes share many common biological properties with the lysosomes. The stage I melanosomes appear to be linked to the late endosomes. Most of melanosomal proteins are glycoproteins that should be folded or assembled correctly in the ER through interaction with calnexin, a chaperone associated with melanogenesis. These melanosomal glycoproteins are then accumulated in the trans Golgi network (TGN) and transported to the melanosomal compartment. During the formation of transport vesicles, coat proteins assemble on the cytoplasmic face of TGN to select their cargos by interacting directly or indirectly with melanosomal glycoproteins to be transported. Adapter protein-3 (AP-3) is important for intracellular transport of tyrosinase gene family proteins from TGN to melanosomes. Tyrosinase gene family proteins possess a di-leucine motif in their cytoplasmic tail, to which AP-3 appears to bind. Thus, the initial cascade of melanosome biogenesis is regulated by several factors including: 1) glycosylation of tyrosinase gene family proteins and their correct folding and assembly within ER and Golgi, and 2) supply of specific signals necessary for intracellular transport of these glycoproteins by vesicles from Golgi to melanosomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Calnexin
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Melanosomes / metabolism*
  • Melanosomes / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / chemistry
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / genetics
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / metabolism*
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Protein Transport
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism
  • trans-Golgi Network / metabolism


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Calnexin
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase