Chemical Characterization of Hair Melanins in Various Coat-Color Mutants of Mice

Ozeki, Hiroyuki; Ito, Shosuke; Wakamatsu, Kazumasa; Hirobe, Tomohisa
September 1995
Journal of Investigative Dermatology;Sep95, Vol. 105 Issue 3, p361
Academic Journal
Mammalian melanins exist in two chemically distinct forms: the brown to black eumelanins and the yellow to reddish pheomelanins. Melanogenesis is influenced by a number of genes, the levels of whose products determine the quantity and quality of the melanins produced. To examine the effects of various coat-color genes on the chemical properties of melanins synthesized in the follicular melanocytes of mice, we have introduced new methods to solubilize differentially pheomelanins and brown-type eumelanins. We applied these and previously developed high-performance liquid chromatography and spectrophotometric methods for assaying eu- and pheontelanins to characterize melanins in various mutant mice: black, lethal yellow, viable yellow, agouti, brown, light, albino, dilute, recessive yellow, pink-eyed dilution, slaty, and silver. It was demonstrated that 1) complete solubilization of melanins in Soluene-350 is a convenient method to estimate the total amount of eu- and pheomelanins, 2) lethal yellow, viable yellow, and recessive yellow hairs contain almost pure pheomelanins, and 3) melanins from brown, light, silver, and pink-eyed black hairs share chemical properties in common that are characterized by partial solubility In strong alkali. We suggest that 1) the brown-type eumelanins have lower degrees of polymerization than the black-type eumelanins, and 2) slaty hair melanin contains a greatly reduced ratio of 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid-derived units as compared with black and other eumelanic hair melanins. These results indicate that our methodology, high-performance liquid chromatography and spectrophotometric methods combined, may be useful in chemically characterizing melanin pigments produced in follicular melanocytes.


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