Tyrosinase is an oxidase that is the rate-limitingenzyme for controlling the production of melanin. It is mainly involved in two distinct reactions of melanin synthesis; firstly, the hydroxylation of a monophenol and secondly, the conversion of an o-diphenol to the corresponding o-quinone. o-Quinone undergoes several reactions to eventually form melanin. Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme present in plant and animal tissues that catalyzes the production of melanin and other pigments from tyrosine by oxidation, as in the blackening of a peeled or sliced potato exposed to air. It is found inside melanosomes which are synthesised in the skin melanocytes. In humans, the tyrosinase enzyme is encoded by the TYRgene.
A mutation in the tyrosinase gene resulting in impaired tyrosinase production leads to type I oculocutaneous albinism, a hereditary disorder that affects one in every 17,000 people.
Tyrosinase activity is very important. If uncontrolled during melanoma, it results in increased melanin synthesis. Decreasing tyrosinase activity has been targeted for the betterment or prevention of conditions related to the hyperpigmentation of the skin, such as melasma and age spots.
Several polyphenols, including flavonoids or stilbenoid, substrate analogues, free radical scavengers, and copper chelators, have been known to inhibit tyrosinase. Henceforth, the medical and cosmetic industries are focusing research on tyrosinase inhibitors to treat skin disorders.
In food industry, tyrosinase inhibition is desired as tyrosinase catalyzes the oxidation of phenolic compounds found in fruits and vegetables into quinones, which gives an undesirable taste and color and also decreases the availability of certain essential amino acids as well as the digestibility of the products. As such, highly effective tyrosinase inhibitors are also needed in agriculture and the food industry. Well known tyrosinase inhibitors include kojic acid,tropolone,coumarins,vanillic acid, vanillin, and vanillic alcohol.
Tyrosinase has a wide range of functions in insects, including wound healing, sclerotization, melanin synthesis and parasite encapsulation. As a result, it is an important enzyme is the defensive mechanisms of insects and some insecticides are aimed to inhibit tyrosinase.
Tyrosinases have been isolated and studied from a wide variety of plant, animal, and fungal species. Tyrosinases from different species are diverse in terms of their structural properties, tissue distribution, and cellular location. No common tyrosinase protein structure occurring across all species has been found. The enzymes found in plant, animal, and fungal tissue frequently differ with respect to their primary structure, size, glycosylation pattern, and activation characteristics. However, all tyrosinases have in common a binuclear, type 3 copper centre within their active sites. Here, two copper atoms are each coordinated with three histidineresidues.
Human tyrosinase is a single membrane-spanning transmembrane protein. In humans, tyrosinase is sorted into melanosomes and the catalytically active domain of the protein resides within melanosomes. Only a small, enzymatically inessential part of the protein extends into the cytoplasm of the melanocyte.
As opposed to fungal tyrosinase, human tyrosinase is a membrane-bound glycoprotein and has 13% carbohydrate content.
Crystallographic structure of a Streptomyces-derived tyrosinase in complex with a so-called "caddie protein" In all models, only the tyrosinase molecule is shown, copper atoms are shown in green and the molecular surface is shown in red. In models D and E, histidine amino acids are shown as a blue line representation. From model E, each copper atom within the active site is indeed complexed with three histidine residues, forming a type 3 copper center. From models C and D, the active site for this protein can be seen to sit within a pillus formed on the molecular surface of the molecule.
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