Mitotic figures were demonstrated in the differentiated melanocytes of normal epidermal and nonepidermal tissues without the presence of external stimuli. These dividine melanocytes were present in human and mouse skin, mouse hair, chick feathers, and embryonic chick retinal pigment epithelium. In normal adult human epidermis, dividing melanocytes, though rare, were found in the nonstimulated areas. L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine reaction on the melanocytes during mitosis demonstrated activity of the melanin-forming enzyme, tyrosinase, and ultrastructural studies demonstrated the characteristic melanosomes in variour stages of maturation. Other ultrastructural characteristics of the melanocytes during mitosis, except for the Golgi apparatus, which was smaller and less complex, were similar to those seen in well-differentiated nondividing melanocytes. Autoradiographic studies of thymidine incorporation into mouse skin indicated that 0.7% of epidermal melanocytes, when slightly stimulated, are in the S phase. Thus, in vivo differentiation of non-neoplastic melanocytes (to produce pyrosinase and melanosomes) does not preclude their replication by mitotic division.

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