Multiple control and dynamic response of the Xenopus melanotrope cell

S. M. Kolk, B. M.R. Kramer, L. N. Cornelisse, W. J.J.M. Scheenen, B. G. Jenks, E. W. Roubos

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Some amphibian brain-melanotrope cell systems are used to study how neuronal and (neuro)endocrine mechanisms convert environmental signals into physiological responses. Pituitary melanotropes release α-melanophore-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), which controls skin color in response to background light stimuli. Xenopus laevis suprachiasmatic neurons receive optic input and inhibit melanotrope activity by releasing neuropeptide Y (NPY), dopamine (DA) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) when animals are placed on a light background. Under this condition, they strengthen their synaptic contacts with the melanotropes and enhance their secretory machinery by upregulating exocytosis-related proteins (e.g. SNAP-25). The inhibitory transmitters converge on the adenylyl cyclase system, regulating Ca2+ channel activity. Other messengers like thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH, from the magnocellular nucleus), noradrenalin (from the locus coeruleus), serotonin (from the raphe nucleus) and acetylcholine (from the melanotropes themselves) stimulate melanotrope activity. Ca2+ enters the cell and the resulting Ca2+ oscillations trigger α-MSH secretion. These intracellular Ca2+ dynamics can be described by a mathematical model. The oscillations travel as a wave through the cytoplasm and enter the nucleus where they may induce the expression of genes involved in biosynthesis and processing (7B2, PC2) of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and release (SNAP-25, munc18) of its end-products. We propose that various environmental factors (e.g. light and temperature) act via distinct brain centers in order to release various neuronal messengers that act on the melanotrope to control distinct subcellular events (e.g. hormone biosynthesis, processing and release) by specifically shaping the pattern of melanotrope Ca2+ oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Background adaptation
  • Ca oscillations
  • Exocytosis proteins
  • Pro-opiomelanocortin
  • SNAP-25
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • α-MSH

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