The melanosome is a highly specialized organelle where melanin is synthesized. Tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein-1 (Tyrp1) are major melanosomal membrane proteins and key enzymes for melanin synthesis in melanocytes. Inulavosin, a melanogenesis inhibitor isolated from Inula nervosa (Compositae), reduced the melanin content without affecting either the enzymatic activities or the transcription of tyrosinase or Tyrp1 in B16 melanoma cells. To our knowledge, this inhibitor is previously unreported. Electron-microscopic analyses revealed that inulavosin impaired late-stage development of melanosomes (stages III and IV), in which melanin is heavily deposited. However, it did not alter the early stages of melanosomes (stages I and II), when filamentous structure is observed. Immunofluorescence analyses showed that tyrosinase, but not Tyrp1, was specifically eliminated from melanosomes in cells treated with inulavosin. Unexpectedly, inulavosin specifically accelerated the degradation of tyrosinase but not other melanosomallysosomal membrane proteins (Tyrp1, Pmel17, and LGP85). The degradation of tyrosinase induced by inulavosin associated with lysosomes but not the proteasome. Interestingly, lysosomal protease inhibitors restored the melanogenesis but not the targeting of tyrosinase to melanosomes in the cells treated with inulavosin. Instead, colocalization of tyrosinase with lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 at late endosomesmultivesicular bodies and lysosomes was accentuated. Taken together, inulavosin inhibits melanogenesis as a result of mistargeting of tyrosinase to lysosomes.
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