Establishment and Characterization of a Mouse Neural Crest Derived Cell Line (NCCmelan5)


Address reprint requests to Shiho Ooka, Department of Dermatology, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, 2-16-1 Sugao, Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki 216-8511, Japan. E-mail:


Stem cell factor (SCF) and endothelin 3 (EDN3) are both necessary for melanocyte development. We have established an immortal cell population of neural crest cells from C57BL/6 mice, cultivating them with SCF, EDN3 and 15% fetal calf serum without feeder cells, and have designated that line as C57NCC SE. C57NCC SE consists of a population of melanocytes in various stages of differentiation. We used a single-cell cloning method, in which only one cell is transferred to each new culture plate, and succeeded in establishing an immortal cell line named NCCmelan5. All NCCmelan5 cells were positive for KIT (SCF receptor), HMB45 (human melanosomal antigen), tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TYRP1), tyrosinase-related protein-2 (TYRP2), tyrosinase and endothelin receptor B (EDNRB) and all could oxidize 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) to form melanin. Measurement of their DNA content revealed that 88.6% of the cells were in the G0–G1 phase, suggesting that they retained normal DNA ploidy. Thus, NCCmelan5 cells have the characteristics of mature melanocytes except that they are immortal; these cells may prove useful to study factors that directly affect melanogenesis and melanocyte development without the influence of feeder cells. It is clear that our attempt to establish immortal cell lines from murine neural crest cells would have never been successful without the addition of SCF and EDN3, since C57NCC SE and NCCmelan5 cells require those factors to proliferate.