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posted on 26.03.2018, 04:11 by Adamantia Agalou, Michael Thrapsianiotis, Apostolis Angelis, Athanasios Papakyriakou, Alexios-Leandros Skaltsounis, Nektarios Aligiannis, Dimitris Beis

Zebrafish has emerged as a powerful model organism for high throughput drug screening. Several morphological criteria, transgenic lines and in situ expression screens have been developed to identify novel bioactive compounds and their mechanism of action. Here, we used the inhibition of melanogenesis during early zebrafish embryo development to identify natural compounds that block melanogenesis. We identified an extract from the Greek hawthorn Crataegus pycnoloba as a potent inhibitor of melanin synthesis and used activity based subfractionation to identify active subfractions and eventually three single compounds of the same family (dibenzofurans). These compounds show reversible inhibition of melanin synthesis and do not act via inhibition of tyrosinase. We also showed that they do not interfere with neural crest differentiation or migration. We identified via in silico modeling that the compounds can bind to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and verified activation of the Ahr signaling pathway showing the induction of the expression of target genes.