Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor regulates RAB27A gene expression and controls melanosome transport

Chiaverini C, Beuret L, Flori E, Busca R, Abbe P, Bille K, Bahadoran P, Ortonne JP, Bertolotto C, Ballotti R

J. Biol. Chem. 2008 May;283(18):12635-42


PMID: 18281284

Melanosomes are lysosome-related organelles specialized in melanin synthesis and transport. In this study, we show that microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) silencing induces melanosome gathering around the nucleus and causes the relocalization of Rab27A, Slac2a-Mlph, and Myo5a that control the transport of melanosomes on the actin network. In an attempt to elucidate the mechanism by which MITF controls melanosome distribution, we identify RAB27A as a new MITF target gene. Indeed, MITF silencing leads to a dramatic decrease in Rab27A expression and blocks the stimulation of Rab27A expression evoked by cAMP. Further, forced expression of MITF increases Rab27A expression, indicating that MITF is required and sufficient for Rab27A expression in melanoma cells. MITF binds to two E-boxes in the proximal region of the Rab27A promoter and stimulates its transcriptional activity. Finally, re-expression of Rab27A, in MITF-depleted cells, restores the transport of melanosomes to the cell periphery. These results show that RAB27A is a new direct transcriptional target of MITF and link MITF to melanosome transport, another key parameter of melanocyte differentiation and skin pigmentation. Interestingly, Rab27A is involved in other fundamental physiological functions, such as the transport of lytic granules and insulin secretion. Thus our results, deciphering the mechanism of Rab27A transcriptional regulation, have an interest that goes beyond the skin pigmentation field.