Cell Physiology

Calcium homeostasis in human melanocytes: role of transient receptor potential melastatin 1 (TRPM1) and its regulation by ultraviolet light

Sulochana Devi, Rajendra Kedlaya, Nityanand Maddodi, Kumar M. R. Bhat, Craig S. Weber, Hector Valdivia, Vijayasaradhi Setaluri


Transient receptor potential melastatin (TRPM) is a subfamily of ion channels that are involved in sensing taste, ambient temperature, low pH, osmolarity, and chemical ligands. Melastatin 1/TRPM1, the founding member, was originally identified as melanoma metastasis suppressor based on its expression in normal pigment cells in the skin and the eye but not in aggressive, metastasis-competent melanomas. The role of TRPM1 and its regulation in normal melanocytes and in melanoma progression is not understood. Here, we studied the relationship of TRPM1 expression to growth and differentiation of human epidermal melanocytes. TRPM1 expression and intracellular Ca2+ levels are significantly lower in rapidly proliferating melanocytes compared to the slow growing, differentiated melanocytes. We show that lentiviral short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown of TRPM1 results in reduced intracellular Ca2+ and decreased Ca2+ uptake suggesting a role for TRPM1 in Ca2+ homeostasis in melanocytes. TRPM1 knockdown also resulted in a decrease in tyrosinase activity and intracellular melanin pigment. Expression of the tumor suppressor p53 by transfection or induction of endogenous p53 by ultraviolet B radiation caused repression of TRPM1 expression accompanied by decrease in mobilization of intracellular Ca2+ and uptake of extracellular Ca2+. These data suggest a role for TRPM1-mediated Ca2+ homeostasis, which is also regulated by ultraviolet B, in melanogenesis.

  • melanocytes
  • melanoma
  • melanogenesis
  • differentiation
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