Melanins are high molecular weight pigments that are ubiquitous in nature and can also be synthesized in the laboratory from the variety of precursors. Melanins possess numerous interesting physico-chemical characteristics including electromagnetic radiation absorption properties and the ability to chelate metals. We have recently reported that melanin has remarkable ionizing radiation shielding properties, possibly because it can interact with photons via Compton scattering. We hypothesized that, if administered internally, in addition to radiation shielding, melanin could play a beneficial role by scavenging various radionuclides.
Three melanins were synthesized from dopamine, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-Dopa) and from combination of L-Cysteine and L-Dopa. For control synthetic melanin made from tyrosine polymerization (Sigma) was used. Melanins were characterized by elemental analysis. The chemosorption of 111In, 225Ac and 213Bi by melanins was studied at 37°C for up to 48 hrs.
The C to N molar ratios for dopamine, L-Dopa and tyrosine melanins were very close at 7.92, 8.39, and 8.48, respectively, while in mixed L-cysteine/L-Dopa melanin that ratio was much lower at 3.63. This mixed melanin also contained 22.33% sulfur, thus confirming incorporation of S-containing motifs into its structure. Dopamine, L-Dopa and tyrosine melanins were very similar in their ability to decrease the activity of 111In, 225Ac and 213Bi and their radioactive daughters in the supernatants more than 10-fold in comparison with the starting levels while mixed L-cysteine/L-Dopa melanin was able to chemosorb only 111In.
We have demonstrated that synthetic melanins made of diverse precursors can chemosorb 111In, 213Bi and 225Ac with dopamine, L-dopa and tyrosine melanins being the most efficient towards all three of these radionuclides. Such properties of synthetic melanins can contribute to the development of the novel melanin-based radioprotective materials.
melanin; chemosorption; 225-Actinium; 213-Bismuth; 111-Indium; radiological attack
The affinity of melanin biopolymers for metal ions, drugs and other organic compounds is an important
factor in the etiology of toxic retinopathy, hiperpigmentation, otic lesions and irreversible extrapyramidal
disorders. The aim of the presented work was to examine the interaction of local anaesthetic drugs used in
ophthalmology with model DOPA-melanin in the presence of metal ions. It has been demonstrated that the
analyzed drugs form complexes with melanin biopolymer. Based on the .values of association constants,, the
following order of drugs affinity to melanin was found: tetracaine > procaine >> bupivacaine > lidocaine. It
has also been shown that Cu2+ and Zn2+ ions administered to DOPA-melanin before complexing with drugs
decrease the total amount of local anaesthetics bound to melanin. The blocking of some active centers in
melanin molecules by metal ions, which potentially exist in living systems, may change the clinical
therapeutic efficiency of the analyzed local anaesthetic drugs.
Several types of autosomal recessive oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) are associated with abnormal tyrosinase function and a generalized reduction in or absence of cutaneous and eye melanin. Each is thought to result from a different mutant allele at the tyrosinase locus, with the mutation producing an enzyme with little or no activity in all involved tissues. In this paper, we report a new type of OCA that results from a tyrosinase allele producing a temperature-sensitive enzyme. The proband had white hair in the warmer areas (scalp and axilla) and progressively darker hair in the cooler areas (extremities) of her body. Melanocyte and melanosome architecture were normal. Quantitative hairbulb tyrosinase (dopa oxidase) assay demonstrated a loss of activity above 35-37 degrees C. Plasma pheomelanin and urine eumelanin intermediates were reduced and correlated with hair melanin content. This is the first temperature-sensitive tyrosinase mutation to be reported in humans and is analogous to the Siamese mutation in the cat and the Himalayan mutation in the mouse.
Nanobiotechnology applies the capabilities of biological systems in generating a variety of nano-sized structures. Plants, algae, fungi and bacteria are some systems mediating such reactions. In fungi, the synthesis of melanin is an important strategy for cell-survival under metal-stressed conditions. Yarrowia lipolytica, the biotechnologically significant yeast also produces melanin that sequesters heavy metal ions. The content of this cell-associated melanin is often low and precursors such as L-tyrosine or 3, 4-dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine (L-DOPA) can enhance its production. The induced melanin has not been exploited for the synthesis of nanostructures. In this investigation, we have employed L-DOPA-melanin for the facile synthesis of silver and gold nanostructures. The former have been used for the development of anti-fungal paints.
Yarrowia lipolytica NCIM 3590 cells were incubated with L-DOPA for 18 h and the resultant dark pigment was subjected to physical and chemical analysis. This biopolymer was used as a reducing and stabilizing agent for the synthesis of silver and gold nanostructures. These nanoparticles were characterized by UV-Visible spectra, X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies, and electron microscopy. Silver nanoparticles were evaluated for anti-fungal activity.
The pigment isolated from Y. lipolytica was identified as melanin. The induced pigment reduced silver nitrate and chloroauric acid to silver and gold nanostructures, respectively. The silver nanoparticles were smaller in size (7 nm) and displayed excellent anti-fungal properties towards an Aspergillus sp. isolated from a wall surface. An application of these nanoparticles as effective paint-additives has been demonstrated.
The yeast mediated enhanced production of the metal-ion-reducing pigment, melanin. A simple and rapid method for the extracellular synthesis of nanoparticles with paint-additive-application was developed.
Yarrowia lipolytica; L-DOPA melanin; Nanoparticles; Anti-fungal activity
Investigations were carried out to determine whether the melanin present in the blue and brown eyes were eumelanin, the melanin present in black hair and dark skin, or pheomelanin, the melanin present in red hair and the skin of people with red hair. Our results showed that UV-visible irradiation of blue or brown eye melanin did not produce any superoxide. Irradiation of 51Cr-labelled Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells in the presence of blue or brown eye melanin did not produce significant cell lysis. The electron spin resonance (ESR) signals of blue and brown eye melanins were very similar to those of eumelanin. Comparison of these findings with our previous results indicated that the blue and brown eye melanins are essentially eumelanin. The ESR signals further suggested that in the case of both blue and brown eye melanins the iris, ciliary body, choroid, and retinal pigment epithelium did not differ.
In a previous study we isolated melanin-producing (mel) mutants of Vibrio cholerae and demonstrated that production of melanin during growth on solid media was stimulated by L-tyrosine and L-cysteine. In the studies reported here we analyzed factors that affected melanin production in liquid media and determined the abilities of radioactively labeled amino acids to serve as precursors for the formation of melanin by V. cholerae. Radioactivity from L-cysteine and from L-tyrosine was preferentially incorporated into partially purified melanin, providing further evidence for production of phaeomelanin by V. cholerae. Cuprous ions stimulated production of melanin by V. cholerae in defined liquid medium, but melanin formation was inhibited by high concentrations of L-cysteine or thiouracil. The inhibition of melanin formation by sulfhydryl compounds is most likely due to their ability to bind copper ions that are essential for tyrosinase activity.
Melanin, a high-molecular weight pigment that is ubiquitous in nature, protects melanized microorganisms against high doses of ionizing radiation. However, the physics of melanin interaction with ionizing radiation is unknown.
We rationally designed melanins from either 5-S-cysteinyl-DOPA, L-cysteine/L-DOPA, or L-DOPA with diverse structures as shown by elemental analysis and HPLC. Sulfur-containing melanins had higher predicted attenuation coefficients than non-sulfur-containing melanins. All synthetic melanins displayed strong electron paramagnetic resonance (2.14·1018, 7.09·1018, and 9.05·1017 spins/g, respectively), with sulfur-containing melanins demonstrating more complex spectra and higher numbers of stable free radicals. There was no change in the quality or quantity of the stable free radicals after high-dose (30,000 cGy), high-energy (137Cs, 661.6 keV) irradiation, indicating a high degree of radical stability as well as a robust resistance to the ionizing effects of gamma irradiation. The rationally designed melanins protected mammalian cells against ionizing radiation of different energies.
We propose that due to melanin's numerous aromatic oligomers containing multiple π-electron system, a generated Compton recoil electron gradually loses energy while passing through the pigment, until its energy is sufficiently low that it can be trapped by stable free radicals present in the pigment. Controlled dissipation of high-energy recoil electrons by melanin prevents secondary ionizations and the generation of damaging free radical species.
The production of melanin in the hair and skin is tightly regulated by the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) whose activation is controlled by 2 secreted ligands, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (αMSH) and agouti signal protein (ASP). Since melanin is extremely stable, lasting years in biological tissues, the mechanism underlying the relatively rapid decrease in visible pigmentation elicited by ASP is of obvious interest. In this study, the effects of ASP and αMSH on the regulation of melanin synthesis and on visible pigmentation were assessed in normal murine melanocytes and were compared with the quick depigmenting effect of the tyrosinase inhibitor, phenylthiourea (PTU). αMSH increased pheomelanin levels prior to increasing eumelanin content over 4 days of treatment. Conversely, ASP switched off the pigment synthesis pathway, reducing eu- and pheo- melanin synthesis within 1 day of treatment that was proportional to the decrease in tyrosinase protein level and activity. These results demonstrate that the visible depigmentation of melanocytes induced by ASP does not require the degradation of existing melanin but rather is due to the dilution of existing melanin by melanocyte turnover, which emphasizes the importance of pigment distribution to visible color.
eumelanin; pheomelanin; MC1R; ASP; αMSH; PTU; tyrosinase
Melanins are synthesized by organisms of all biological kingdoms and comprise a heterogeneous class of natural pigments. Certain of these polymers have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several important human fungal pathogens. This study investigated whether the fungal skin pathogen Malassezia furfur produces melanin or melanin-like compounds. A melanin-binding monoclonal antibody (MAb) labelled in vitro cultivated yeast cells of M. furfur. In addition, melanization of Malassezia yeasts and hyphae was detected by anti-melanin MAb in scrapings from patients with pityriasis versicolor. Treatment of Malassezia yeasts with proteolytic enzymes, denaturant and concentrated hot acid yielded dark particles and electron spin resonance spectroscopy revealed that these particles contained a stable free radical compound, consistent with their identification as melanins. Malassezia yeasts required phenolic compounds, such as L-DOPA, in order to synthesize melanin. L-DOPA also triggered hyphal formation in vitro when combined with kojic acid, a tyrosinase inhibitor, in a dose-dependent manner. In this respect, L-DOPA is thought to be an essential substance that is linked to both melanization and yeast-mycelial transformation in M. furfur. In summary, M. furfur can produce melanin or melanin-like compounds in vitro and in vivo, and the DOPA melanin pathway is involved in cell wall melanization.
The application of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy in pharmacy of melanin complexes with netilmicin and Cu(II) was presented. The continuous microwave saturation of EPR spectra of DOPA–melanin and the complexes was performed. EPR spectra were measured on an X-band (9.3 GHz) spectrometer at temperatures in the range of 105–300 K. Paramagnetic copper ions decrease the intensity of the EPR lines of melanin’s free radicals. It was found that fast spin–lattice relaxation characterizes DOPA–melanin–Cu(II) complexes. Slow spin–lattice relaxation processes exist in melanin’s paramagnetic centers of DOPA–melanin and DOPA–melanin–netilmicin, [DOPA–melanin–netilmicin]–Cu(II), [DOPA–melanin–Cu(II)]–netilmicin complexes. Spin–lattice relaxation processes are faster at higher temperatures. The homogeneous broadening of EPR lines for melanin complexes was observed. The practical consequences of differences between paramagnetic properties of melanin complexes with netilmicin and the complexes with Cu(II) were discussed.
In this work, we measured the metal-binding sites of natural and synthetic dihydroxyindole (DHI) melanins and their respective interactions with Fe(III) ions. Besides the two acid groups detected for the DHI system: catechol (Cat) and quinone-imine (QI), acetate groups were detected in the natural oligomer by potentiometric titrations. At acidic pH values, Fe(III) complexation with synthetic melanin was detected in an Fe(OH)(CatH2Cat) interaction. With an increase of pH, three new interactions occurred: dihydroxide diprotonated catechol, Fe(OH)2(CatH2Cat)−, dihydroxide monoprotonated catechol, [Fe(OH)2(CatHCat)]2−, and an interaction resulting from the association of one quinone-imine and a catechol group, [Fe(OH)2(Qi−)(CatHCat)]3−. In the natural melanin system, we detected the same interactions involving catechol and quinone-imine groups but also the metal interacts with acetate group at pH values lower than 4.0. Furthermore, interactions in the synthetic system were also characterized by infrared spectroscopy by using the characteristic vibrations of catechol and quinone-imine groups. Finally, scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray (EDS) analysis were used to examine the differences in morphology of these two systems in the absence and presence of Fe(III) ions. The mole ratio of metal and donor atoms was obtained by the EDS analysis.
Ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy readily discerns the two types of melanin pigments (eumelanin and pheomelanin) although fundamental details regarding the optical properties and pigment heterogeneity are more difficult to disentangle via analysis of the broad featureless absorption spectrum alone. We employed nonlinear transient absorption spectroscopy to study different melanin pigments at near infrared wavelengths. Excited state absorption, ground state depletion and stimulated emission signal contributions were distinguished for natural and synthetic eumelanins and pheomelanins. A starker contrast amongst the pigments is observed in the nonlinear excitation regime because they all exhibit distinct transient absorptive amplitudes, phase shifts and nonexponential population dynamics spanning the femtosecond – nanosecond range. In this manner, different pigments within the pheomelanin subclass were distinguished in synthetic and human hair samples. These results highlight the potential of nonlinear spectroscopies to deliver an in situ analysis of natural melanins in tissue that are otherwise difficult to extract and purify.
Melanin; Excited State Dynamics; Human Hair
Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for the colour of eyes, hair, and skin in humans. Tyrosinase is known to be the key enzyme in melanin biosynthesis. Overactivity of this enzyme leads to dermatological disorders such as age spots, melanoma and sites of actinic damage. Ten plants belonging to four families (Asphodelaceae, Anacardiaceae, Oleaceae, and Rutaceae) were investigated for their effect on tyrosinase using both L-tyrosine and L-DOPA as substrates. Ethanol leaf extracts (500 μg/mL) of Aloe ferox, Aloe aculeata, Aloe pretoriensis, and Aloe sessiliflora showed 60%, 31%, 17%, and 13% inhibition of tyrosinase activity respectively, when L-tyrosine was used as a substrate. Harpephyllum caffrum (leaves) at a concentration of 500 μg/mL had an inhibitory effect of 70% on tyrosinase when L-DOPA was used as a substrate. The IC50 of Harpephyllum caffrum (leaves and bark) were found to be 51 ± 0.002 and 40 ± 0.035 μg/mL, respectively. Following the results obtained from the tyrosinase assay, extracts from Harpephyllum caffrum were selected for further testing on their effect on melanin production and their cytotoxicity on melanocytes in vitro. The IC50 of both extracts was found to be 6.25 μg/mL for melanocyte cells. Bark extract of Harpephyllum caffrum showed 26% reduction in melanin content of melanocyte cells at a concentration of 6.25 μg/mL. The leaf extract of this plant showed some toxicity on melanocyte cells. Therefore, the bark extract of Harpephyllum caffrum could be considered as an antityrosinase agent for dermatological disorders such as age spots and melasoma.
The yeast Torula corallina is a strong erythritol producer that is used in the industrial production of erythritol. However, melanin accumulation during culture represents a serious problem for the purification of erythritol from the fermentation broth. Melanin biosynthesis inhibitors such as 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin inhibitors were added to the T. corallina cultures. Only the DHN-melanin inhibitors showed an effect on melanin production, which suggests that the melanin formed during the culturing of T. corallina is derived from DHN. This finding was confirmed by the detection of a shunt product of the pentaketide pathway, flaviolin, and elemental analysis. Among the DHN-melanin inhibitors, tricyclazole was the most effective. Supplementation with tricyclazole enhanced the production of erythritol while significantly inhibiting the production of DHN-melanin and DHN-melanin biosynthetic enzymes, such as trihydroxynaphthalene reductase. The erythrose reductase from T. corallina was purified to homogeneity by ion-exchange and affinity chromatography. Purified erythrose reductase was significantly inhibited in vitro in a noncompetitive manner by elevated levels of DHN-melanin. In contrast, the level of erythrose reductase activity was unaffected by increasing concentrations of tricyclazole. These results suggest that supplemental tricyclazole reduces the production of DHN-melanin, which may lead to a reduction in the inhibition of erythrose reductase and a higher yield of erythritol. This is the first report to demonstrate that melanin biosynthesis inhibitors increase the production of a sugar alcohol in T. corallina.
In melanocytes and in melanoma cells, cyclic AMP (cAMP)-elevating agents stimulate melanogenesis and increase the transcription of tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme in melanin synthesis. However, two other enzymes, tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TRP1) and TRP2, are required for a normal melanization process leading to eumelanin synthesis. In B16 melanoma cells, we demonstrated that stimulation of melanogenesis by cAMP-elevating agents results in an increase in tyrosinase, TRP1, and TRP2 expression. cAMP, through a cAMP-dependent protein kinase pathway, stimulates TRP1 and TRP2 promoter activities in both B16 mouse melanoma cells and normal human melanocytes. Regulation of the TRP1 and TRP2 promoters by cAMP involves a M box and an E box. Further, a classical cAMP response element-like motif participates in the cAMP responsiveness of the TRP2 promoter, demonstrating that the TRP2 gene is subjected to different regulatory processes, which could account for its different expression patterns during embryonic development or under specific physiological and pathological conditions. We also found that microphthalmia, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, strongly stimulates the transcriptional activities of the TRP1 and TRP2 promoters, mainly through binding to the M boxes. Additionally, we demonstrated that cAMP increases microphthalmia expression and thereby its binding to TRP1 and TRP2 M boxes. These convergent and compelling results disclose at least a part of the molecular mechanism involved in the regulation of melanogenic gene expression by cAMP and emphasize the pivotal role of microphthalmia in this process.
Overexpression of tyrosinase can cause excessive production of melanin and lead to hyperpigmentation disorders, including melasma and freckles. Recently, agents obtained from plants are being used as alternative medicines to downregulate tyrosinase synthesis and decrease melanin production. Phyla nodiflora Greene (Verbenaceae) is used as a folk medicine in Taiwanese for treating and preventing inflammatory diseases such as hepatitis and dermatitis. However, the antimelanogenesis activity and molecular biological mechanism underlying the activity of the methanolic extract of P. nodiflora (PNM) have not been investigated to date. Our results showed that PNM treatment was not cytotoxic and significantly reduced the cellular melanin content and tyrosinase activity in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05). Further, PNM exhibited a significant antimelanogenesis effect (P < 0.05) by reducing the levels of phospho-cAMP response element-binding protein and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), inhibiting the synthesis of tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1), and TRP-2, and decreasing the cellular melanin content. Moreover, PNM significantly activated the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, including phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and phospho-p38, and inhibited the synthesis of MITF, thus decreasing melanogenesis. These properties suggest that PNM could be used as a clinical and cosmetic skin-whitening agent to cure and/or prevent hyperpigmentation.
Oculocutaneous albinism type III (OCA3), caused by mutations of TYRP1 gene, is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by reduced biosynthesis of melanin pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes. The TYRP1 gene encodes a protein called tyrosinase-related protein-1 (Tyrp1). Tyrp1 is involved in maintaining the stability of tyrosinase protein and modulating its catalytic activity in eumelanin synthesis. Tyrp1 is also involved in maintenance of melanosome structure and affects melanocyte proliferation and cell death. In this work we implemented computational analysis to filter the most probable mutation that might be associated with OCA3. We found R326H and R356Q as most deleterious and disease associated by using PolyPhen 2.0, SIFT, PANTHER, I-mutant 3.0, PhD-SNP, SNP&GO, Pmut, and Mutpred tools. To understand the atomic arrangement in 3D space, the native and mutant (R326H and R356Q) structures were modelled. Finally the structural analyses of native and mutant Tyrp1 proteins were investigated using molecular dynamics simulation (MDS) approach. MDS results showed more flexibility in native Tyrp1 structure. Due to mutation in Tyrp1 protein, it became more rigid and might disturb the structural conformation and catalytic function of the structure and might also play a significant role in inducing OCA3. The results obtained from this study would facilitate wet-lab researches to develop a potent drug therapies against OCA3.
A strain of Aspergillus fumigatus from composted coffee and garden wastes utilized natural deproteinized insect, banana, hair, octopus, and synthetic tyrosine and dopa melanins as sole sources of carbon. With a sucrose supplement, degradation was essentially complete after 50 days in Czapek medium pH 6.5 at 30 degrees C. The catabolic rate differed for each substrate pigment, as did the molecular weight distribution of products accumulating in the medium. After incubation with L-[U-14C]melanin, over 50% was recovered in a dark fungal pigment, the remainder appearing as cell protein, chitin, lipid, CO2, and polar metabolites. When grown on melanin, the normally pale mycelia darkened with the production of a fungal allomelanin, with infrared spectrum and alkali fusion products differing from those of the substrate pigment. Isotope distribution in amino acids for A. fumigatus grown on labeled melanin supplemented with sucrose suggested separate pools for synthesis of cell proteins and melanoproteins. Deposition of allomelanin increased resistance of conidia, sterigma, and conidiophores to lytic carbohydrases as judged by scanning electron microscopy.
The melanocortin MC1 receptor is a G -protein coupled receptor expressed in melanocytes of the skin and hair and is known for its key role in regulation of human pigmentation. Melanocortin MC1 receptor activation after ultraviolet radiation exposure results in a switch from the red/yellow pheomelanin to the brown/black eumelanin pigment synthesis within cutaneous melanocytes; this pigment is then transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes of the skin. The increase in melanin maturation and uptake results in tanning of the skin, providing a physical protection of skin cells from ultraviolet radiation induced DNA damage. Melanocortin MC 1 receptor polymorphism is widespread within the Caucasian population and some variant alleles are associated with red hair colour, fair skin, poor tanning and increased risk of skin cancer. Here we will discuss the use of mouse coat colour models, human genetic association studies, and in vitro cell culture studies to determine the complex functions of the melanocortin MC1 receptor and the molecular mechanisms underlying the association between melanocortin MC1 receptor variant alleles and the red hair colour phenotype. Recent research indicates that melanocortin MC1 receptor has many non-pigmentary functions, and that the increased risk of skin cancer conferred by melanocortin MC1 receptor variant alleles is to some extent independent of pigmentation phenotypes. The use of new transgenic mouse models, the study of novel melanocortin MC1 receptor response genes and the use of more advanced human skin models such as 3D skin reconstruction may provide key elements in understanding the pharmacogenetics of human melanocortin MC1 receptor polymorphism .
melanocortin 1 receptor; melanoma; red hair colour; melanocyte; tanning; pigmentation
The seven transmembrane domain melanocortin-1 receptor (Mc1r) encoded by the coat color extension gene (E) plays a key role in the signaling pathway of melanin synthesis. Upon the binding of agonist (melanocortin hormone, α-MSH) or antagonist (Agouti protein) ligands, the melanosomal synthesis of eumelanin and/or phaeomelanin pigments is stimulated or inhibited, respectively. Different alleles of the extension gene were cloned from unrelated animals belonging to French cattle breeds and sequenced. The wild type E allele was mainly present in Normande cattle, the dominant ED allele in animals with black color (i.e. Holstein), whereas the recessive e allele was identified in homozygous animals exhibiting a more or less strong red coat color (Blonde d'Aquitaine, Charolaise, Limousine and Salers). A new allele, named E1, was found in either homozygous (E1/E1) or heterozygous (E1/E) individuals in Aubrac and Gasconne breeds. This allele displayed a 4 amino acid duplication (12 nucleotides) located within the third cytoplasmic loop of the receptor, a region known to interact with G proteins. A first genotyping assay of the main French cattle breeds is described based on these four extension alleles.
cattle; genotyping; coat color; extension; polymorphism
Metal chelation is often invoked as one of the main biological functions of melanin. In order to understand the interaction between metals and melanin, extensive studies have been carried out to determine the nature of the metal binding sites, binding capacity and affinity. These data are central to efforts aimed at elucidating the role metal binding plays in determining the physical, structural, biological, and photochemical properties of melanin. This article examines the current state of understanding of this field.
Melanins are complex biological pigments formed by the oxidative polymerization of phenolic and/or indolic compounds. These pigments have been implicated in the pathogenesis of some microbial infections, malignancies, degenerative disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Recent studies have demonstrated that melanins have antigenic and anti-inflammatory properties. These findings led us to further explore the interaction of melanins with the immune system. Melanin particles (“ghosts”) were isolated from in vitro-melanized Cryptococcus neoformans cells and Aspergillus niger conidia and then incubated in normal human serum containing 125I-labeled complement C3. The results demonstrated deposition of C3 fragments onto the melanin ghosts as early as 1 min after incubation, with maximum deposition occurring after 12 min for C. neoformans-derived melanin ghosts and after 25 min for A. niger-derived melanin ghosts. The blocking of classical pathway activation did not affect the kinetics or total deposition of C3 onto the melanin ghosts, indicating that melanins activate complement through the alternative pathway. Immunofluorescence analysis of lungs from BALB/c mice injected intratracheally with C. neoformans-derived melanin ghosts demonstrated deposition of C3 fragments onto the ghosts. Small granulomas were also observed surrounding the ghosts. However, melanization of the C. neoformans cell wall did not alter the kinetics or total deposition of C3 fragments onto the fungal cells. The finding that melanin surfaces can activate the complement system suggests a potential mechanism for the pathogenesis of some degenerative and/or autoimmune processes that involve melanized cells as well as another potential role for melanin in the virulence of melanin-producing microorganisms.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the antioxidant characteristics of Anisomeles indica methanol extract and the inhibitory effect of ovatodiolide on melanogenesis. In the study, the antioxidant capacities of A. indica methanol extract such as DPPH assay, ABTS radical scavenging assay, reducing capacity and metal ion chelating capacity as well as total phenolic content of the extract were investigated. In addition, the inhibitory effects of ovatodiolide on mushroom tyrosinase, B16F10 intracellular tyrosinase and melanin content were determined spectrophotometrically. Our results revealed that the antioxidant capacities of A. indica methanol extract increased in a dose-dependent pattern. The purified ovatodiolide inhibited mushroom tyrosinase activity (IC50 = 0.253 mM), the compound also effectively suppressed intracellular tyrosinase activity (IC50 = 0.469 mM) and decreased the amount of melanin (IC50 = 0.435 mM) in a dose-dependent manner in B16F10 cells. Our results concluded that A. indica methanol extract displays antioxidant capacities and ovatodiolide purified from the extract inhibited melanogenesis in B16F10 cells. Hence, A. indica methanol extract and ovatodiolide could be applied as a type of dermatological whitening agent in skin care products.
Anisomeles indica; ovatodiolide; melanogenesis; tyrosinase; melanin; antioxidant
The adsorption of Cd(II) and Pb(II) by squid melanin was investigated. At a metal ion concentration of 2 mM/L, the biosorption efficiency of melanin reached 95% for Cd(II) and Pb(II). The maximum content of bound Cd(II) and Pb(II) was 0.93 mM/g and 0.65 mM/g, respectively. Temperature had no obvious effect on the adsorption of the metals, and in a pH range of 4.0–7.0, the adsorption yield was high and stable. Macrosalts such as NaCl, MgCl2, and CaCl2 had no obvious effect on the binding of Pb(II) but greatly diminished the adsorption of Cd(II), which indicated that different functional groups in squid melanin are responsible for their adsorption. IR analysis of metal ion-enriched squid melanin demonstrated that the possible functional groups responsible for metal binding were phenolic hydroxyl (OH), carboxyl (COOH), and amine groups (NH). This study reports a new material for the removal of heavy metals from low-strength wastewater.
1,8-Dihydroxynaphthalene (1,8-DHN) is a fungal polyketide that contributes to virulence when polymerized to 1,8-DHN melanin in the cell walls of Wangiella dermatitidis, an agent of phaeohyphomycosis in humans. To begin a genetic analysis of the initial synthetic steps leading to 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis, a 772-bp PCR product was amplified from genomic DNA using primers based on conserved regions of fungal polyketide synthases (Pks) known to produce the first cyclized 1,8-DHN-melanin pathway intermediate, 1,3,6,8-tetrahydroxynaphthalene. The cloned PCR product was then used as a targeting sequence to disrupt the putative polyketide synthase gene, WdPKS1, in W. dermatitidis. The resulting wdpks1Δ disruptants showed no morphological defects other than an albino phenotype and grew at the same rate as their black wild-type parent. Using a marker rescue approach, the intact WdPKS1 gene was then successfully recovered from two plasmids. The WdPKS1 gene was also isolated independently by complementation of the mel3 mutation in an albino mutant of W. dermatitidis using a cosmid library. Sequence analysis substantiated that WdPKS1 encoded a putative polyketide synthase (WdPks1p) in a single open reading frame consisting of three exons separated by two short introns. This conclusion was supported by the identification of highly conserved Pks domains for a β-ketoacyl synthase, an acetyl-malonyl transferase, two acyl carrier proteins, and a thioesterase in the deduced amino acid sequence. Studies using a neutrophil killing assay and a mouse acute-infection model confirmed that all wdpks1Δ strains were less resistant to killing and less virulent, respectively, than their wild-type parent. Reconstitution of 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis in a wdpks1Δ strain reestablished its resistance to killing by neutrophils and its ability to cause fatal mouse infections.