Osteopontin gene is expressed in the dermal papilla of pelage follicles in a hair-cycle-dependent manner

Da Wen Yu, Tian Yang, Tadashige Sonoda, Yi Gong, Qiong Cao, Kevin Gaffney, Pamela J. Jensen, Irwin M. Freedberg, Robert M. Lavker, Tung Tien Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Hair follicle formation and maintenance involve intimate interactions between follicular epithelial cells and a group of specialized mesenchymal cells known as the dermal papilla. Using the random primer polymerase chain reaction, we have identified an ≈1.4 kb osteopontin mRNA that is present in large quantities in cultured rat vibrissa dermal papilla cells but undetectable in cultured rat skin fibroblasts. In situ hybridization showed that the osteopontin gene is expressed in dermal papilla cells of pelage follicles during catagen but not in anagen or telogen. As an acidic glycosylated RGD-containing extracellular matrix protein, osteopontin can function both as a cell attachment protein and as a soluble cytokine playing roles in signaling, cell migration, tissue survival, anti-inflammation, and T-cell-mediated cellular immunity. Our results indicate that the comparison of the mRNA of cultured dermal papilla cells and fibroblasts can lead to the identification of not only anagen-specific genes (e.g., nexin 1), but also a catagen-specific gene. We have thus provided evidence that specific genes are turned on during catagen, which is therefore not simply a passive "degenerative" phase. The functional role of osteopontin in catagen is unclear but it may promote the formation of a tightly aggregated dermal papilla, and/or protect the dermal papilla cells from apoptosis induced by cytokines or hypoxia during catagen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1554-1558
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2001


  • Alopecia
  • Androgen
  • Dermal papilla
  • Fibroblasts
  • Hair follicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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