The exocyst is required for melanin exocytosis from melanocytes and transfer to keratinocytes

Hugo Moreiras, Francisco J.C. Pereira, Matilde V. Neto, Liliana Bento-Lopes, Tiago C. Festas, Miguel C. Seabra, Duarte C. Barral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Skin pigmentation involves the production of the pigment melanin by melanocytes, in melanosomes and subsequent transfer to keratinocytes. Within keratinocytes, melanin polarizes to the apical perinuclear region to form a protective cap, shielding the DNA from ultraviolet radiation-induced damage. Previously, we found evidence to support the exocytosis by melanocytes of the melanin core, termed melanocore, followed by endo/phagocytosis by keratinocytes as a main form of transfer, with Rab11b playing a key role in the process. Here, we report the requirement for the exocyst tethering complex in melanocore exocytosis and transfer to keratinocytes. We observed that the silencing of the exocyst subunits Sec8 or Exo70 impairs melanocore exocytosis from melanocytes, without affecting melanin synthesis. Moreover, we confirmed by immunoprecipitation that Rab11b interacts with Sec8 in melanocytes. Furthermore, we found that the silencing of Sec8 or Exo70 in melanocytes impairs melanin transfer to keratinocytes. These results support our model as melanocore exocytosis from melanocytes is essential for melanin transfer to keratinocytes and skin pigmentation and suggest that the role of Rab11b in melanocore exocytosis is mediated by the exocyst.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-371
JournalPigment Cell and Melanoma Research
Issue number2
Early online date30 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • exocyst
  • keratinocytes
  • melanin
  • melanocytes
  • skin pigmentation


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