Mouse epidermal melanoblasts preferentially proliferated from disaggregated epidermal cell suspensions derived from newborn mouse skin in a serum-free melanoblast proliferation medium containing dibutyryl adenosine 3′:5′-cyclic monophosphate and basic fibroblast growth factor. After 12 days, almost all of the keratinocytes died and pure cultures of melanoblasts (approximately 80%) and melanocytes (approximately 20%) could be obtained. No further proliferation of melanoblasts was observed in the melanoblast proliferation medium. In order to clarify the role of protein kinase C, which is important for the regulation of cellular proliferation, activators or inhibitors of protein kinase C were added to the culture of the quiescent melanoblasts at 12 days. The proliferation of melanoblasts was induced by an activator of protein kinase C, N-(6-phenylhexyl)-5-chloro-1-naphthalene-sulfonamide or 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-glycerol. It was also induced by an inhibitor of protein kinase C, staurosporine or 1-(5-isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-methyl-piperazine. However, the melanoblasts failed to proliferate in the melanoblast proliferation medium supplemented with both the activator and the inhibitor. These results suggest that the proliferation of mouse epidermal melanoblasts in culture is regulated by activating or inhibiting the activity of protein kinase C.

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