Summary
Tyrosinase is an oxidase that is the rate-limiting enzyme for controlling the production of melanin. The enzyme is mainly involved in two distinct reactions of melanin synthesis otherwise known as the Raper Mason pathway. 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. It is found inside melanosomes which are synthesized in the skin melanocytes. In humans, the tyrosinase enzyme is encoded by the TYR gene. Tyrosinase carries out the oxidation of phenols such as tyrosine and dopamine using dioxygen (O2). In the presence of catechol, benzoquinone is formed (see reaction below). Hydrogens removed from catechol combine with oxygen to form water. The substrate specificity becomes dramatically restricted in mammalian tyrosinase which uses only L-form of tyrosine or DOPA as substrates, and has restricted requirement for L-DOPA as cofactor. The two copper atoms within the active site of tyrosinase enzymes interact with dioxygen to form a highly reactive chemical intermediate that then oxidizes the substrate. The activity of tyrosinase is similar to catechol oxidase, a related class of copper oxidase. Tyrosinases and catechol oxidases are collectively termed polyphenol oxidases. 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.
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