Electron tomography of early melanosomes: implications for melanogenesis and the generation of fibrillar amyloid sheets.


Melanosomes are lysosome-related organelles (LROs) in which melanins are synthesized and stored. Early stage melanosomes are characterized morphologically by intralumenal fibrils upon which melanins are deposited in later stages. The integral membrane protein Pmel17 is a component of the fibrils, can nucleate fibril formation in the absence of other pigment cell-specific proteins, and forms amyloid-like fibrils in vitro. Before fibril formation Pmel17 traffics through multivesicular endosomal compartments, but how these compartments participate in downstream events leading to fibril formation is not fully known. By using high-pressure freezing of MNT-1 melanoma cells and freeze substitution to optimize ultrastructural preservation followed by double tilt 3D electron tomography, we show that the amyloid-like fibrils begin to form in multivesicular compartments, where they radiate from the luminal side of intralumenal membrane vesicles. The fibrils in fully formed stage II premelanosomes organize into sheet-like arrays and exclude the remaining intralumenal vesicles, which are smaller and often in continuity with the limiting membrane. These observations indicate that premelanosome fibrils form in association with intralumenal endosomal membranes. We suggest that similar processes regulate amyloid formation in pathological models.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803488105
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@article{Hurbain2008ElectronTO, title={Electron tomography of early melanosomes: implications for melanogenesis and the generation of fibrillar amyloid sheets.}, author={Ilse Hurbain and Willie J C Geerts and Thomas Boudier and Sergio Marco and Arie J. Verkleij and Michael S Marks and Graç Raposo}, journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America}, year={2008}, volume={105 50}, pages={19726-31} }