Melanin: the organizing molecule

Medical Hypotheses
F E Barr

Abstract

The hypothesis is advanced that (neuro)melanin (in conjunction with other pigment molecules such as the isopentenoids) functions as the major organizational molecule in living systems. Melanin is depicted as an organizational "trigger" capable of using established properties such as photon-(electron)-phonon conversions, free radical-redox mechanisms, ion exchange mechanisms, and semiconductive switching capabilities to direct energy to strategic molecular systems and sensitive hierarchies of protein enzyme cascades. Melanin is held capable of regulating a wide range of molecular interactions and metabolic processes primarily through its effective control of diverse covalent modifications. To support the hypothesis, established and proposed properties of melanin are reviewed (including the possibility that (neuro)melanin is capable of self-synthesis). Two "melanocentric systems"--key molecular systems in which melanin plays a central if not controlling role--are examined: 1) the melanin-purine-pteridine (covalent modification) system and 2) the APUD (or diffuse neuroendocrine) system. Melanin's role in embryological organization and tissue repair/regeneration via sustained or direct current is considered in addition to its possi...Continue Reading

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