Mutations in TRPM1, a calcium channel expressed in retinal bipolar cells and epidermal melanocytes, cause complete congenital stationary night blindness with no discernible skin phenotype. In the retina, TRPM1 activity is negatively coupled to metabotropic glutamate receptor 6 (mGluR6) signaling through Gαo and TRPM1 mutations result in the loss of responsiveness of TRPM1 to mGluR6 signaling. Here, we show that human melanocytes express mGluR6, and treatment of melanocytes with L-AP4, a type III mGluR-selective agonist, enhances Ca(2+) uptake. Knockdown of TRPM1 or mGluR6 by shRNA abolished L-AP4-induced Ca(2+) influx and TRPM1 currents, showing that TRPM1 activity in melanocytes is positively coupled to mGluR6 signaling. Gαo protein is absent in melanocytes. However, forced expression of Gαo restored negative coupling of TRPM1 to mGluR6 signaling, but treatment with pertussis toxin, an inhibitor of Gi /Go proteins, did not affect basal or mGluR6-induced Ca(2+) uptake. Additionally, chronic stimulation of mGluR6 altered melanocyte morphology and increased melanin content. These data suggest differences in coupling of TRPM1 function to mGluR6 signaling explain different cellular responses to glutamate in the retina and the skin.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S.