Keratinocyte growth factor promotes melanosome transfer to keratinocytes

J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Dec;125(6):1190-9. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2005.23929.x.


Melanogenesis and melanosome transfer from the melanocytes to the neighboring keratinocytes are induced by ultraviolet radiation and modulated by autocrine and paracrine factors. Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF/fibroblast growth factor (FGF)7) is a paracrine mediator of human keratinocyte growth and differentiation. We evaluated the influence of KGF on melanosome transfer in co-cultures of keratinocytes and melanocytes. Immunofluorescence analysis using anti-tyrosinase and anti-human cytokeratin antibodies, phagocytic assays using fluorescent latex beads, and ultrastructural analysis indicated that KGF is able to induce melanosome transfer acting only on the recipient keratinocytes and as a consequence of a general role of KGF in the promotion of the phagocytic process. Inhibition of proteinase-activated receptor-2, to block the Rho-dependent phagocytic pathway, or of the Src family tyrosine kinases, to inhibit the Rac-dependent pathway, showed that KGF promotes phagocytosis through both mechanisms. Increased expression of the KGF receptor (KGFR) on the keratinocytes by transfection led to increased phagocytosis of latex beads following KGF treatment, suggesting that the KGF effect is directly mediated by KGFR expression and activation. Moreover, confocal microscopic analysis revealed that KGFR localize in phagosomes during KGF-induced phagocytosis, suggesting a direct role of the receptor in regulating both the early steps of uptake and the intracellular traffic of the phagosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / physiology*
  • Melanocytes / cytology
  • Melanocytes / drug effects
  • Melanocytes / physiology*
  • Melanosomes / drug effects
  • Melanosomes / physiology*
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects*
  • Skin Pigmentation / physiology
  • Transfection
  • alpha-MSH / pharmacology


  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7
  • alpha-MSH