This gene encodes a melanocyte-specific type I transmembrane glycoprotein. The encoded protein is enriched in melanosomes, which are the melanin-producing organelles in melanocytes, and plays an essential role in the structural organization of premelanosomes. This protein is involved in generating internal matrix fibers that define the transition from Stage I to Stage II melanosomes. This protein undergoes a complex pattern of prosttranslational processing and modification that is essential to the proper functioning of the protein. A secreted form of this protein that is released by proteolytic ectodomain shedding may be used as a melanoma-specific serum marker. Alternate splicing results in multiple transcript variants.
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