Biogenesis of Melanosomes in Kupffer Cells of Proteus anguinus (Urodela, Amphibia)


* Address reprint requests to Petra-Maja Prelovšek, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Vecna pot 111, PO Box 2995, 1001, Ljubljana, Slovenia. E-mail:


The ultrastructural characteristics of melanosomes and premelanosomes observed during the biogenesis of melanosomes in liver pigment cells of the neotenic cave salamander Proteus anguinus (Proteidae) are described. It is well known that amphibian liver pigment cells, also known as Kupffer cells (KC), contain melanosomes and are able to synthesize melanin. Liver pigment cells of P. anguinus contain numerous siderosomes and melanosomes. The melanosomes are grouped together within single-membrane-bounded bodies, named as ‘clusters of melanosomes’ or ‘melanosomogenesis centers’. Inside such clusters, different structures are present: (1) filament-like structures, characteristic of the initial stage of melanosome biogenesis, (2) medium electron-dense melanosomes in different stages of melanization, (3) melanosomes with an electron-dense cortical area and a less electron-dense medullar area, and (4) uniformly highly electron-dense mature melanosomes or melanin granules. Histochemical and cytochemical dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) oxidase reactions in pigment cells were positive. Our results confirm the ability of amphibian KC to synthesize melanin and contribute to this little known subject.