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Emerging evidence indicates that even subtle changes in the expression of key genes of signalling pathways can have profound effects. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are masters of subtlety and generally have only mild effects on their target genes. The microRNA miR-31 is one of the major microRNAs in many cutaneous conditions associated with activated keratinocytes, such as the hyperproliferative diseases psoriasis, non-melanoma skin cancer and hair follicle growth. miR-31 is a marker of the hair growth phase, and in our miR-31 transgenic mouse model it impairs the function of keratinocytes. This leads to aberrant proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation that results in altered hair growth, while the loss of miR-31 leads to increased hair growth. Through in vitro and in vivo studies, we have defined a set of conserved miR-31 target genes, including LATS2 and STK40, which serve as new players in the regulation of keratinocyte growth and hair follicle biology. LATS2 can regulate growth of keratinocytes and we have identified a function of STK40 that can promote the expression of key hair follicle programme regulators such as HR, DLX3 and HOXC13.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Wound healing in mammals is a fibrotic process. The mechanisms driving fibrotic (as opposed to regenerative) repair are poorly understood. Herein we report that therapeutic Wnt inhibition with topical application of small-molecule Wnt inhibitors can reduce fibrosis and promote regenerative cutaneous wound repair. In the naturally stented model of ear punch injury, we found that Wnt/β-catenin pathway is activated most notably in the dermis of the wound bed early (d 2) after injury and subsides to baseline levels by d10. Topical application of either of 2 mechanistically distinct small-molecule Wnt pathway inhibitors (a tankyrase inhibitor, XAV-939, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved casein kinase activator, pyrvinium) in C57Bl/6J mice resulted in significantly increased rates of wound closure (72.3 ± 14.7% with XAV-939; and 52.1 ± 20.9% with pyrvinium) compared with contralateral controls (38.1 ± 23.0 and 40.4.± 16.7%, respectively). Histologically, Wnt inhibition reduced fibrosis as measured by α-smooth muscle actin positive myofibroblasts and collagen type I α1 synthesis. Wnt inhibition also restored skin architecture including adnexal structures in ear wounds and dermal-epidermal junction with rete pegs in excisional wounds. Additionally, in ear punch injury Wnt inhibitor treatment enabled regeneration of auricular cartilage. Our study shows that pharmacologic Wnt inhibition holds therapeutic utility for regenerative repair of cutaneous wounds.
MicroRNAs have continued to attract enormous interest in the scientific community ever since their discovery. Their allure stems from their unique role in posttranscriptional gene expression control as well as their potential application as therapeutic targets in various disease pathologies. While much is known concerning their general biological function, such as their interaction with RNA-induced silencing complexes, many important questions still remain unanswered, especially regarding their functions in the skin. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of the role of microRNAs in the skin in order to shine new light on our understanding of cutaneous biology and emphasize the significance of these small, single-stranded RNA molecules in the largest organ of the human body. Key events in epidermal and hair follicle biology, including differentiation, proliferation, and pigmentation, all involve microRNAs. We explore the role of microRNAs in several cutaneous processes, such as appendage formation, wound-healing, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, carcinogenesis, immune response, and aging. In addition, we discuss current trends in research and offer suggestions for future studies.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate the expression of many mammalian genes and play key roles in embryonic hair follicle development; however, little is known of their functions in postnatal hair growth. We compared the effects of deleting the essential miRNA biogenesis enzymes Drosha and Dicer in mouse skin epithelial cells at successive postnatal time points. Deletion of either Drosha or Dicer during an established growth phase (anagen) caused failure of hair follicles to enter a normal catagen regression phase, eventual follicular degradation and stem cell loss. Deletion of Drosha or Dicer in resting phase follicles did not affect follicular structure or epithelial stem cell maintenance, and stimulation of anagen by hair plucking caused follicular proliferation and formation of a primitive transient amplifying matrix population. However, mutant matrix cells exhibited apoptosis and DNA damage and hair follicles rapidly degraded. Hair follicle defects at early time points post-deletion occurred in the absence of inflammation, but a dermal inflammatory response and hyperproliferation of interfollicular epidermis accompanied subsequent hair follicle degradation. These data reveal multiple functions for Drosha and Dicer in suppressing DNA damage in rapidly proliferating follicular matrix cells, facilitating catagen and maintaining follicular structures and their associated stem cells. Although Drosha and Dicer each possess independent non-miRNA-related functions, the similarity in phenotypes of the inducible epidermal Drosha and Dicer mutants indicates that these defects result primarily from failure of miRNA processing. Consistent with this, Dicer deletion resulted in the upregulation of multiple direct targets of the highly expressed epithelial miRNA miR-205.
Alopecia areata is among the most prevalent autoimmune diseases, yet compared with other autoimmune conditions, it is not well studied. This in part results from limitations in the C3H/HeJ mouse and DEBR rat model systems most commonly used to study the disease, which display a low frequency and late onset. We describe a novel high-incidence model for spontaneous alopecia areata. The 1MOG244 T cell expresses dual TCRA chains, one of which, when combined with the single TCRB present, promotes the development of CD8(+) T cells with specificity for hair follicles. Retroviral transgenic mice expressing this TCR develop spontaneous alopecia areata at nearly 100% incidence. Disease initially follows a reticular pattern, with regionally cyclic episodes of hair loss and regrowth, and ultimately progresses to alopecia universalis. Alopecia development is associated with CD8(+) T cell activation, migration into the intrafollicular region, and hair follicle destruction. The disease may be adoptively transferred with T lymphocytes and is class I and not class II MHC-dependent. Pathologic T cells primarily express IFNG and IL-17 early in disease, with dramatic increases in cytokine production and recruitment of IL-4 and IL-10 production with disease progression. Inhibition of individual cytokines did not significantly alter disease incidence, potentially indicating redundancy in cytokine responses. These results therefore characterize a new high-incidence model for alopecia areata in C57BL/6J mice, the first to our knowledge to apply a monoclonal TCR, and indicate that class I MHC-restricted CD8(+) T lymphocytes can independently mediate the pathologic response.
Stem cells cycle through active and quiescent states. Large populations of stem cells in an organ may cycle randomly or in a coordinated manner. Although stem cell cycling within single hair follicles has been studied, less is known about regenerative behavior in a hair follicle population. By combining predictive mathematical modeling with in vivo studies in mice and rabbits, we show that a follicle progresses through cycling stages by continuous integration of inputs from intrinsic follicular and extrinsic environmental signals based on universal patterning principles. Signaling from the WNT/bone morphogenetic protein activator/inhibitor pair is coopted to mediate interactions among follicles in the population. This regenerative strategy is robust and versatile because relative activator/inhibitor strengths can be modulated easily, adapting the organism to different physiological and evolutionary needs.
Wnt/beta-catenin and NF-kappaB signaling mechanisms provide central controls in development and disease, but how these pathways intersect is unclear. Using hair follicle induction as a model system, we show that patterning of dermal Wnt/beta-catenin signaling requires epithelial beta-catenin activity. We find that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is absolutely required for NF-kappaB activation, and that Edar is a direct Wnt target gene. Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is initially activated independently of EDA/EDAR/NF-kappaB activity in primary hair follicle primordia. However, Eda/Edar/NF-kappaB signaling is required to refine the pattern of Wnt/beta-catenin activity, and to maintain this activity at later stages of placode development. We show that maintenance of localized expression of Wnt10b and Wnt10a requires NF-kappaB signaling, providing a molecular explanation for the latter observation, and identify Wnt10b as a direct NF-kappaB target. These data reveal a complex interplay and interdependence of Wnt/beta-catenin and EDA/EDAR/NF-kappaB signaling pathways in initiation and maintenance of primary hair follicle placodes.
Lrig1 is a marker of human interfollicular epidermal stem cells and helps maintain stem cell quiescence. We show that, in mouse epidermis, Lrig1 defines the hair follicle junctional zone adjacent to the sebaceous glands and infundibulum. Lrig1 is a Myc target gene; loss of Lrig1 increases the proliferative capacity of stem cells in culture and results in epidermal hyperproliferation in vivo. Lrig1-expressing cells can give rise to all of the adult epidermal lineages in skin reconstitution assays. However, during homeostasis and on retinoic acid stimulation, they are bipotent, contributing to the sebaceous gland and interfollicular epidermis. beta-catenin activation increases the size of the junctional zone compartment, and loss of Lrig1 causes a selective increase in beta-catenin-induced ectopic hair follicle formation in the interfollicular epidermis. Our results suggest that Lrig1-positive cells constitute a previously unidentified reservoir of adult mouse interfollicular epidermal stem cells.