Melanopsin and rhodopsin mediate UVA-induced immediate pigment darkening: Unravelling the photosensitive system of the skin

Leonardo Vinícius Monteiro de Assis, Maria Nathalia Moraes, Keila Karoline Magalhães-Marques, Ana Maria de Lauro Castrucci*

*Corresponding author for this work
24 Citations (Scopus)


The mammalian skin has a photosensitive system comprised by several opsins, including rhodopsin (OPN2) and melanopsin (OPN4). Recently, our group showed that UVA (4.4 kJ/m2) leads to immediate pigment darkening (IPD) in murine normal and malignant melanocytes. We show the role of OPN2 and OPN4 as UVA sensors: UVA-induced IPD was fully abolished when OPN4 was pharmacologically inhibited by AA9253 or when OPN2 and OPN4 were knocked down by siRNA in both cell lines. Our data, however, demonstrate that phospholipase C/protein kinase C pathway, a classical OPN4 pathway, is not involved in UVA-induced IPD in either cell line. Nonetheless, in both cell types we have shown that: a) intracellular calcium signal is necessary for UVA-induced IPD; b) the involvement of CaMK II, whose inhibition, abolished the UVA-induced IPD; c) the role of CAMK II/NOS/sGC/cGMP pathway in the process since inhibition of either NOS or sGC abolished the UVA-induced IPD. Taken altogether, we show that OPN2 and OPN4 participate in IPD induced by UVA in murine normal and malignant melanocytes through a conserved common pathway. Interestingly, upon knockdown of OPN2 or OPN4, the UVA-driven IPD is completely lost, which suggests that both opsins are required and cooperatively signal in murine both cell lines. The participation of OPN2 and OPN4 system in UVA radiation-induced response, if proven to take place in human skin, may represent an interesting pharmacological target for the treatment of depigmentary disorders and skin-related cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)150-162
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 04.2018

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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