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    Melanin is a widely distributed and striking dark-colored pigment produced by countless living organisms. Although a wide range of bioactivities have been recognized, there are still major constraints in using melanin for biotechnological applications such as its fragmentary known chemical structure and its insolubility in inorganic and organic solvents. In this study, a bacterial culture of Streptomyces cavourensis SV 21 produced two distinct forms of melanin: (1) a particulate, insoluble form as well as (2) a rarely observed water-soluble form. The here presented novel, acid-free purification protocol of purified particulate melanin (PPM) and purified dissolved melanin (PDM) represents the basis for an in-depth comparison of their physicochemical and biological properties, which were compared to the traditional acid-based precipitation of melanin (AM) and to a synthetic melanin standard (SM). Our data show that the differences in solubility between PDM and PPM in aqueous solutions may be a result of different adjoining cation species, since the soluble PDM polymer is largely composed of Mg2+ ions and the insoluble PPM is dominated by Ca2+ ions. Furthermore, AM shared most properties with SM, which is likely attributed to a similar, acid-based production protocol. The here presented gentler approach of purifying melanin facilitates a new perspective of an intact form of soluble and insoluble melanin that is less chemical altered and thus closer to its original biological form.


    Joko Tri Wibowo, Matthias Y Kellermann, Lars-Erik Petersen, Yustian R Alfiansah, Colleen Lattyak, Peter J Schupp. Characterization of an Insoluble and Soluble Form of Melanin Produced by Streptomyces cavourensis SV 21, a Sea Cucumber Associated Bacterium. Marine drugs. 2022 Jan 06;20(1)

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    PMID: 35049909

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