Research ArticleDevelopmental Biology

Serotonergic regulation of melanocyte conversion: A bioelectrically regulated network for stochastic all-or-none hyperpigmentation

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Science Signaling  06 Oct 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 397, pp. ra99
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac6609

Driving melanocyte proliferation and invasion

Melanocytes play key physiological functions; one of the easiest to see is pigmentation. In frogs, the number, distribution, and shape of melanocytes are determined by a subpopulation of cells called “instructor cells,” which are regulated by changes in membrane potential. Forced depolarization of instructor cells can result in excessive melanocyte proliferation, altered melanocyte cell shape, and abnormal migration of melanocytes into multiple tissues, which results in darkly colored tadpoles through a stochastic all-or-none process; the embryos are either normally pigmented or hyperpigmented. Lobikin et al. unraveled the molecular signaling pathway and physiological circuit that mediates this melanocyte conversion process, and they used computational approaches to explain how this all-or-none, stochastic process can occur.

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