Single protein behind united colours of skin palette

February 23rd, 2008 - 11:36 am ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 23 (IANS) From ivory white to chocolate brown, the range of skin colours you see in the world could be the handiwork of a single protein, according to a new study. Corporate researchers, taking forward a 2005 study that said a gene called SLC24A5 decided skin colour, have zeroed in on NCKX5 - the protein product of this gene - as the key factor determining whether you are black, white or brown.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

In the study, when the researchers removed NCKX5 from melanocytes - the skin cells that manufacture the melanin pigment that determines skin colour - melanin production decreased dramatically.

The researchers believe NCKX5 plays a direct role in decisions that influence the assembly of melanosomes, the specialized cell vesicles where melanin is produced.

They conclude that alterations, which increase or decrease NCKX5 effectiveness, could influence total skin pigment production.

Though humans generally possess similar concentrations of melanocytes, there are subtle differences that determine melanin production and hence greater or lesser concentration of skin melanin.

Some have little or no melanin in their bodies - a condition known as albinism.

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