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Keywords:

  • Melanocyte;
  • Keratinocyte;
  • Co-culture;
  • Pigment;
  • Mutant

Interactions between melanocytes and keratinocytes in the skin suggest bi-directional interchanges between these two cell types. Thus, melanocytes cultured alone may not accurately reflect the physiology of the skin and the effects of physiological regulators in vivo, because they do not consider possible interactions with keratinocytes. As more and more pigment genes are identified and cloned, the characterization of their functions becomes more of a challenge, particularly with respect to their roles in the processing and transport of melanosomes and their transfer to keratinocytes. Immortalized melanocytes mutant at these loci are now being routinely generated from mice, but interestingly, successful co-culture of murine melanocytes and keratinocytes is very difficult compared with their human counterparts. Thus, we have now optimized co-culture conditions for murine melanocytes and keratinocytes so that pigmentation and the effects of specific mutations can be studied in a more physiologically relevant context.