Melanosome transport and regulation in development and disease

Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Mar:219:107707. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2020.107707. Epub 2020 Oct 17.


Melanosomes are specialized membrane-bound organelles that synthesize and organize melanin, ultimately providing color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Disorders in melanogenesis and melanosome transport are linked to pigmentary diseases, such as Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, Chediak-Higashi syndrome, and Griscelli syndrome. Clinical cases of these pigmentary diseases shed light on the molecular mechanisms that control melanosome-related pathways. However, only an improved understanding of melanogenesis and melanosome transport will further the development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Herein, we review the current literature surrounding melanosomes with particular emphasis on melanosome membrane transport and cytoskeleton-mediated melanosome transport. We also provide perspectives on melanosome regulatory mechanisms which include hormonal action, inflammation, autophagy, and organelle interactions.

Keywords: Autophagy; Immunity; Melanogenesis regulation; Melanosome transport; Organelle interactions; Pigmentary diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy
  • Biological Transport
  • Humans
  • Melanins* / metabolism
  • Melanosomes* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Melanins