Volume 1 Issue 9
Sep.  2010
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Christopher J Vavricka, Bruce M. Christensen, Jianyong Li. Melanization in living organisms: a perspective of species evolution[J]. Protein&Cell, 2010, 1(9): 830-841. doi: 10.1007/s13238-010-0109-8
Citation: Christopher J Vavricka, Bruce M. Christensen, Jianyong Li. Melanization in living organisms: a perspective of species evolution[J]. Protein&Cell, 2010, 1(9): 830-841. doi: 10.1007/s13238-010-0109-8

Melanization in living organisms: a perspective of species evolution

doi: 10.1007/s13238-010-0109-8
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This work is supported in part by an NIH grant AI 19769. Chris Vavricka is supported by Chinese Academy of Sciences Fellowship for Young International Scientists (2009Y2BS2) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Research Fund for International Young Scientists (Grant No. 31050110126). We also thank Matthew T. Aliota from the Christensen Lab at WisconsinMadison Department of Pathobiology for contributing Figure 7. Finally, we are grateful for the assistance of Dr. Qian Han with many of the research projects discussed in this manuscript.

  • Received Date: 2010-08-30
  • Rev Recd Date: 2010-09-08
  • Eumelanin is a heteropolymer that is generally composed of hydroxylated indole residues and plays diverse protective functions in various species. Melanin is derived from the amino acid tyrosine and production of melanin is a highly complex oxidative process with a number of steps that can either proceed enzymatically or non-enzymatically. Although melanin plays important protective roles in many species, during melanization, particularly in steps that can proceed non-enzymatically, many toxic intermediates are produced, including semiquinones, dopaquinone, indole-quinones and moreover, the production of many reactive oxygen species. To mitigate the production of reactive species, a number of proteins that regulate the biochemical process of melanization have evolved in various living species, which is closely related to adaptation and physiological requirements. In this communication, we discuss differences between non-enzymatic and enzymatic processes of melanization and the enzymatic regulation of melanization in difference species with an emphasis on differences between mammals and insects. Comparison between melanization and insect sclerotization is also emphasized which raises some interesting questions about the current models of these pathways.
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