Shielding the skin
Melanocytes make dark pigments to shield the skin cells from damaging sunlight
This is the pigment that gives the skin its colour. It comes in two forms: brown-black eumelanin and red-yellow pheomelanin.
Melanocytes stuff packets of melanin into membrane-covered bundles before sending them out into the skin.
These cells make up the outer layer of our skin, and their DNA is vulnerable to damage from the Sun’s rays.
When light hits the skin, cells called melanocytes start to produce extra melanin.
Keratinocytes use the packets of melanin to cover their nuclei, shielding their DNA from the Sun.
Specialist cells under the skin make the dark pigment melanin using a molecule called tyrosine.