MICROSCOPY Vol.44▶No.2 2009
â– Researches Today

Melanin Pigment Cells: Their Localization and Functional Divergence

Nagaharu Tsukijia, Shigeyuki Ueharaa, Daisuke Nishiharaa, Sei-ichi Ishigurob and Hiroaki Yamamotoa

aDepartment of Developmental Biology and Neurosciences, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
bDepartment of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Division of Cell Technology, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Science, Hirosaki University

Abstract: Mammals have two cell types for melanin-producing cells based on their distinct embryonic origins. Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells originate from the dorsal portion of the optic vesicle. RPE is essential for the visual acuity. Melanocytes are derived from the neural crest uniquely formed in vertebrate embryos. They are indispensable not only for protecting organisms from UV damage but also for the hearing acuity. One of the long-term goals of our research group is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which pigment cells develop and differentiate in multicellular organisms in order to infer the evolution of those mechanisms and to predict the roles of these cells. To this end, morphological analyses of these pigment cells are a central and indispensable line of research. Here we introduce our recent progress from our related researches.

Key words: Coat color genes, Melanocyte, Retinal Pigment Epithelium, Developmental Lineage, Visual and Auditory Senses