UNIT 1.8 Isolation, Culture, and Transfection of Melanocytes

  1. Lauren S. Godwin1,
  2. Joanna T. Castle1,
  3. Jaskaren S. Kohli1,
  4. Philip S. Goff1,
  5. Claire J. Cairney2,
  6. W. Nicol Keith2,
  7. Elena V. Sviderskaya1,
  8. Dorothy C. Bennett1

Published Online: 3 JUN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/0471143030.cb0108s63

Current Protocols in Cell Biology

Current Protocols in Cell Biology

How to Cite

Godwin, L. S., Castle, J. T., Kohli, J. S., Goff, P. S., Cairney, C. J., Keith, W. N., Sviderskaya, E. V. and Bennett, D. C. 2014. Isolation, Culture, and Transfection of Melanocytes. Current Protocols in Cell Biology. 63:1.8:1.8.1–1.8.20.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Molecular Cell Biology Group, Biomedical Sciences Research Centre, St. George's, University of London, London, United Kingdom

  2. 2

    Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 JUN 2014


Located in the basal epidermis and hair follicles, melanocytes of the integument are responsible for its coloration through production of melanin pigments. Melanin is produced in lysosomal-like organelles called melanosomes. In humans, this skin pigmentation acts as an ultraviolet radiation filter. Abnormalities in the division of melanocytes are quite common, with potentially oncogenic growth usually followed by cell senescence producing benign naevi (moles), or occasionally melanoma. Therefore, melanocytes are a useful model for studying melanoma, as well as pigmentation and organelle transport and the diseases affecting these mechanisms. This chapter focuses on the isolation, culture, and transfection of human and murine melanocytes. The first basic protocol describes the primary culture of melanocytes from human skin and the maintenance of growing cultures. The second basic protocol details the subculture and preparation of mouse keratinocyte feeder cells. The primary culture of melanocytes from mouse skin is described in the third basic protocol, and, lastly, the fourth basic protocol outlines a technique for transfecting melanocytes and melanoma cells. Curr. Protoc. Cell Biol. 63:1.8.1-1.8.20. © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • melanocytes;
  • primary culture;
  • epidermis;
  • keratinocytes;
  • human;
  • mouse