The epidermis is the first line of defense against ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Keratinocytes and melanocytes respond to UV exposure by eliciting a tanning response dependent in part on paracrine signaling, but how keratinocyte:melanocyte communication is regulated during this response remains understudied. Here, we uncover a surprising new function for the keratinocyte-specific cell–cell adhesion molecule desmoglein 1 (Dsg1) in regulating keratinocyte:melanocyte paracrine signaling to promote the tanning response in the absence of UV exposure. Melanocytes within Dsg1-silenced human skin equivalents exhibited increased pigmentation and altered dendrite morphology, phenotypes which were confirmed in 2D culture using conditioned media from Dsg1-silenced keratinocytes. Dsg1-silenced keratinocytes increased melanocyte-stimulating hormone precursor (Pomc) and cytokine mRNA. Melanocytes cultured in media conditioned by Dsg1-silenced keratinocytes increased Mitf and Tyrp1 mRNA, TYRP1 protein, and melanin production and secretion. Melanocytes in Dsg1-silenced skin equivalents mislocalized suprabasally, reminiscent of early melanoma pagetoid behavior. Together with our previous report that UV reduces Dsg1 expression, these data support a role for Dsg1 in controlling keratinocyte:melanocyte paracrine communication and raise the possibility that a Dsg1-deficient niche contributes to pagetoid behavior, such as occurs in early melanoma development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)