The mechanisms that regulate skin pigmentation have been the subject of intense research in recent decades. In contrast with melanin biogenesis and transport within melanocytes, little is known about how melanin is transferred and processed within keratinocytes. Several models have been proposed for how melanin is transferred, with strong evidence supporting coupled exo/endocytosis. Recently, two reports suggest that upon internalization, melanin is stored within keratinocytes in an arrested compartment, allowing the pigment to persist for long periods. In this commentary, we identify a striking parallelism between melanin processing within keratinocytes and the host-pathogen interaction with Plasmodium, opening new avenues to understand the complex molecular mechanisms that ensure skin pigmentation and photoprotection.
- endocytic pathway
- membrane traffic