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October 2008
D. Hershkovitz and E. Sprecher

For centuries skin pigmentation has played a major societal role. Genetic disorders of skin pigmentation have therefore always evoked the curiosity of both laypersons and physicians. Normal skin pigmentation is a complex process that begins with the synthesis of melanin within the melanocytes, followed by its transfer to neighboring keratinocytes where it is translocated to the upper pole of the nucleus and degraded as the keratinocyte undergoes terminal differentiation. Mutations in various genes involved in melanocyte migration during embryogenesis, melanin synthesis and melanosomal function and transfer have been shown to cause pigmentation disorders. In the present review, we discuss normal skin pigmentation and the genetic underpinning of selected disorders of hypo- and hyperpigmentation.

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