The formation of melanin, which is responsible in determining the hair and skin color of humans, is fully understood by the scientists in the new study. This will make improvements in stimulation, inhibition, medicine, food industries, cosmetics and environmental technology.
Scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz uncovered the molecular mechanism underlying melanin synthesis using a biotechnological procedure. This discovery would lead to the development of uses in medicine, cosmetics production, environmental technology and food industries.
Melanin is a group of natural pigments that can be found in most organisms or in almost all life forms. It is created by the oxidation of the amino acid tyrosine and is followed by polymerization. These pigments are responsible for determining the hair and skin color in humans to varying degrees.
Melanin can also aid the insects in protecting themselves against the effects of the pathogenic microorganism. It also promotes tissue repair. It is also found in other parts of the human body such as pupils or irises of the eyes, areas of the brain like locus coeruleus and substantia nigra, Stria vascularis of the inner ear, the medulla and zona reticularis of the adrenal gland. Some fruits such as bananas have melanin too.
The processes that involve the formation of melanin were not clear and fully understood. On the other hand, in this new study, which was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, the understanding of how this enzyme functions have been understood. The researchers found that the center of the mechanism is the action of the enzyme tyrosinase, which begins the melanin synthesis process.
Heinz Decker, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biophysics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) said that they previously did not fully the role played by this enzyme. They knew more about the actions of catechol oxidase, a related but less effective enzyme that is also involved in the synthesis of melanin.
The study involves the understanding of the catalytic role acted by tyrosinase in the synthesis of melanin. This will make systematic improvements in the processes of inhibition, stimulation, modification, uses in cosmetics production, medicine, and environmental research. Decker also said that they also gained further insights into the functioning of copper in the body.
Jul 05, 2016