Tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1) are two melanogenic enzymes that regulate melanin biosynthesis. Both are glycoproteins and belong to the TRP-1 gene family. They share a significant level of sequence similarity in several regions, including the catalytic domain and the potential N-glycosylation sites. We have recently shown that inhibition of the early steps of N-glycan processing in B16F1 cells dramatically affects tyrosinase activity and melanin synthesis. We present here results on N-glycan processing of TRP-1 and tyrosinase and compare the maturation process and activity of both glycoproteins in the presence of inhibitors of the endoplasmic reticulum stages of N-glycosylation.

N-glycan analysis reveals that each of these two glycoproteins contains a mixture of high-mannose and sialylated complex N-glycans. However, in contrast to TRP-1, tyrosinase presents a homogeneous high-mannose glycoform, also.

In the presence of α-glucosidases inhibitors, the maturation of tyrosinase N-glycans is completely inhibited, whereas TRP-1 is still able to acquire some complex glycans, indicating that endomannosidase acts preferentially on the later glycoprotein. In addition, the dopa-oxidase activity of tyrosinase is totally abolished, whereas for TRP-1 it is only partially affected. The results suggest that despite their structural similarity, tyrosinase is more sensitive than TRP-1 to perturbations of early N-glycan processing, in terms of maturation and catalytical activity.

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