Keratinocytes uptake melanosomes from melanocytes and retain them in the perinuclear region, where they form melanin caps. Although these processes are crucial to protecting nuclear DNA against ultraviolet injury, the molecular basis of melanosome uptake and decomposition in keratinocytes is poorly understood. One of the major reasons for its being poorly understood is the lack of a specific marker protein that can be used to visualize or monitor melanosomes (or melanosome-containing compartments) that have been incorporated into keratinocytes. In this study, we performed a comprehensive localization screening for mammalian Rab family small GTPases (Rab1–45) and succeeded in identifying 11 Rabs that were enriched around melanosomes that had been incorporated into keratinocytes. We also established a new assay by using a recently developed melanosome probe (called M-INK) as a means of quantitatively assessing the degradation of proteins on incorporated melanosomes in control and each of a series of Rab-knockdown keratinocytes. The results showed that knockdown or CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of Rab7B (also identified as Rab42) in keratinocytes caused strong inhibition of protein degradation on melanosomes. Our findings indicated that Rab7B/42 is recruited to melanosome-containing compartments and that it promotes protein degradation on melanosomes in keratinocytes.
- Rab small GTPase