RAB3A Regulates Melanin Exocytosis and Transfer Induced by Keratinocyte-Conditioned Medium

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Skin pigmentation is imparted by melanin and is crucial for photoprotection against UVR. Melanin is synthesized and packaged into melanosomes within melanocytes and is then transferred to keratinocytes (KCs). Although the molecular players involved in melanogenesis have been extensively studied, those underlying melanin transfer remain unclear. Previously, our group proposed that coupled exocytosis/phagocytosis is the predominant mechanism of melanin transfer in human skin and showed an essential role for RAB11B and the exocyst tethering complex in this process. In this study, we show that soluble factors present in KC-conditioned medium stimulate melanin exocytosis from melanocytes and transfer to KCs. Moreover, we found that these factors are released by differentiated KCs but not by basal layer KCs. Furthermore, we found that RAB3A regulates melanin exocytosis and transfer stimulated by KC-conditioned medium. Indeed, KC-conditioned medium enhances the recruitment of RAB3A to melanosomes in melanocyte dendrites. Therefore, our results suggest the existence of two distinct routes of melanin exocytosis: a basal route controlled by RAB11B and a RAB3A-dependent route, stimulated by KC-conditioned medium. Thus, this study provides evidence that soluble factors released by differentiated KCs control skin pigmentation by promoting the accumulation of RAB3A-positive melanosomes in melanocyte dendrites and their release and subsequent transfer to KCs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100139
JournalJID Innovations
Issue number5
Early online date21 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • CO2
  • carbon dioxide
  • FBS
  • fetal bovine serum
  • fibroblast-conditioned medium
  • HEKn
  • human neonatal epidermal keratinocyte
  • HEMn-DP
  • human neonatal epidermal darkly pigmented melanocyte
  • KC
  • keratinocyte
  • KCM
  • keratinocyte-conditioned medium
  • MKCM
  • melanocyte-/keratinocyte-conditioned medium
  • miRNA
  • microRNA
  • pKCM
  • primary keratinocyte-conditioned medium
  • siRNA
  • small interfering RNA


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