Functional involvement of Rab1A in microtubule-dependent anterograde melanosome transport in melanocytes

J Cell Sci. 2012 Nov 1;125(Pt 21):5177-87. doi: 10.1242/jcs.109314. Epub 2012 Aug 1.


Melanosomes are transported to the cell periphery of melanocytes by coordination between bidirectional microtubule-dependent movements and unidirectional actin-dependent movement. Although both the mechanism of the actin-dependent melanosome transport and the mechanism of the microtubule-dependent retrograde melanosome transport in mammalian skin melanocytes have already been determined, almost nothing is known about the mechanism of the microtubule-dependent anterograde melanosome transport. Small GTPase Rab proteins are common regulators of membrane traffic in all eukaryotes, and in this study we performed genome-wide screening for Rab proteins that are involved in anterograde melanosome transport by expressing 60 different constitutive active (and negative) mutants, and succeeded in identifying Rab1A, originally described as a Golgi-resident Rab, as a prime candidate. Endogenous Rab1A protein was found to be localized to mature melanosomes in melanocytes, and its functional ablation either by siRNA-mediated knockdown or by overexpression of a cytosolic form of Rab1A-GTPase-activating protein/TBC1D20 induced perinuclear melanosome aggregation. The results of time-lapse imaging further revealed that long-range anterograde melanosome movements were specifically suppressed in Rab1A-deficient melanocytes, whereas retrograde melanosome transport occurred normally. Taken together, these findings indicate that Rab1A is the first crucial component of the anterograde melanosome transport machinery to be identified in mammalian skin melanocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Melanocytes / enzymology*
  • Melanosomes / enzymology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • rab1 GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rab1 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • TBC1D20 protein, human
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • rab1 GTP-Binding Proteins