Stem cell factor and/or endothelin-3 dependent immortal melanoblast and melanocyte populations derived from mouse neural crest cells

Yoko Kawa, Masaru Ito, Hirotake Ono, Mari Asano, Nagako Takano, Shiho Ooka, Hidenori Watabe, Eri Hosaka, Takako Baba, Yasuo Kubota, Masako Mizoguchi

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cell factor (SCF) and endothelin-3 (ET3) are both necessary for melanocyte development. In order to obtain immortal cell populations of melanoblasts that can survive without feeder cells, we first obtained an immortal cell population of neural crest cells (NCCs) from Sl/ + and + / + mice of strain WB by incubating with a culture medium supplemented with SCF and ET3, and then we designated them as NCC-SE3 cells. NCC-SE3 cells were bipolar, polygonal, or round in shape and possessed melanosomes of stages I-III (mainly stage I). They were positive to dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) reaction and expressed KIT (a receptor tyrosine kinase), tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP1), tyrosinase-related protein-2 (TRP2), and endothelin-B receptor (ETRB) as determined by immunostaining. We next cultured NCC-SE3 cells by changing culture medium from the one supplemented with SCF + ET3 to the one supplemented with SCF or ET3. NCC-SE3 cells cultured with ET3 alone, designated as NCC-E3 cells, were bipolar in shape and had mainly stage II melanosomes and expressed the same proteins as did NCC-SE3 cells. However, NCC-SE3 cells cultured with SCF alone, designated as NCC-S4.1 cells, were polygonal in shape and had mainly stage I melanosomes. They are thought to be more immature because they were positive to KIT, TRP1, and TRP2, but not to ETRB, tyrosinase, and DOPA reaction. When 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate and cholera toxin were added to the culture medium, NCC-S4.1 cells changed shape from polygonal to bipolar and became DOPA-positive. This suggests that NCC-S4.1 cells are melanoblasts that have the potential to differentiate into melanocytes. These cell populations will be extremely useful to study factors that affect melanocyte development and melanogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalPigment Cell Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 8
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Endothelin-B receptor (ETR)
  • KIT
  • Melanocyte development
  • Melanogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science
  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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