Melanotropic peptide-conjugated beads for microscopic visualization and characterization of melanoma melanotropin receptors

Shubh D. Sharma, Jinwen Jiang, Mac E. Hadley, David L. Bentley, Victor J. Hruby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We developed two solid-phase reagent systems for microscopic visualization and characterization of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) receptors of melanoma cells. Multiple copies of [Nle-4,D-Phe-7]-α-MSH, a potent analog of α-MSH, were conjugated to microspheres (latex beads) or macrospheres (polyamide beads) through a thioether or disulfide bond. Binding between the beads and mouse and human melanoma cells was examined by scanning electron microscopy and by light microscopy. Each mouse and human melanoma cell (of all cell lines) evinced binding to the beads. Binding of the melanotropin conjugates was not restricted to any one phase of the cell cycle. Specificity of binding was demonstrated by several studies. Negative controls included cell types of nonmelanocyte origin (e.g., mammary cancer cells) and beads that lacked the melanotropic ligand or had other attached ligands. Beads with a disulfide-linked melanotropin analog served as a direct control. Treatment of these beads with DTT during or before incubation of the beads with melanoma cells (resulting in release of the MSH analog from the beads) eliminated binding of the beads to melanoma cells. Binding interactions between melanoma cells and melanotropin-bound beads also could be abolished by prior incubation with unconjugated MSH analog. During these experiments, certain membrane receptor-hormone associated phenomena, such as capping (aggregation) of the receptor-ligand complex, also were observed. These results provide visual evidence that MSH receptors are a property common to melanoma cells. Normal human epidermal melanocytes and keratinocytes were also shown to express melanotropin receptors by the same criteria established for melanoma cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13715-13720
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 26 1996


  • melanoma
  • melanotropin receptors
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • α-melanocyte stimulating hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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