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The effect of temperature on melanogenesis in normal and malignant melanocytes: an evaluation of a putative interaction between opsins and clock genes

Grant number: 18/08039-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2018
Effective date (End): June 30, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Physiology - General Physiology
Principal researcher:Ana Maria de Lauro Castrucci
Grantee:Isabella Pereira Lima
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Accordingly to environmental cues, mainly light and temperature the organism synchronizes its biological processes through a molecular mechanism. The skin is responsible for the protection and it is constantly exposed to these environmental factors. Furthermore, the skin expresses opsins - which are also expressed in the retina - and possess a light detection system as well as a local temporal controlling system - the clock genes. Our group has demonstrated that UVA is perceived by melanopsin and rhodopsin, which leads to immediate pigment darkening (IPD) in normal and malignant melanocytes. We have also shown that melanopsin acts as heat sensor in these cells. In opposition to what is known for the effect of light on melanogenesis, the role of temperature in this process has been poorly investigated. It has been shown that exposure to high and low temperatures acts positively and negatively, respectively, on melanocyte melanin content. Considering the literature reports, the goal of this project is to compare using quantitative PCR, pharmacological assays, tyrosinase activity, and melanin quantification and staining the responses found in normal melanocytes with malignant ones regarding: 1) the effects of repetitive pulses of high and low temperatures on melanogenesis; 2) the role of melanopsin in thermal perception, which would modulate the pigmentary process; 3) the putative participation of clock genes in the temperature-mediated pigmentary response.

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