Rationale: Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor M (MITF-M) plays important roles in the pigment production, differentiation and survival of melanocytes. Stem cell factor (SCF) and its receptor KIT stimulate MITF-M activity via phosphorylation at the post-translation level. However, the phosphorylation shortens half-life of MITF-M protein over the course of minutes. Here, we investigated novel hypotheses of (i) whether SCF/KIT can regulate MITF-M activity through gene expression as the alternative process, and (ii) whether chemical inhibition of KIT activity can mitigate the acquired pigmentation in skin by targeting the expression of MITF-M. Methods: We employed melanocyte cultures in vitro and pigmented skin samples in vivo, and applied immunoblotting, RT-PCR, siRNA-based gene knockdown and confocal microscopy. Results: The protein and mRNA levels of MITF-M in epidermal melanocytes and the promoter activity of MITF-M in B16-F0 melanoma cells demonstrated that SCF/KIT could trigger the expression of MITF-M de novo, following the phosphorylation-dependent proteolysis of pre-existing MITF-M protein. SCF/KIT regulated the transcription abilities of cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB), CREB-regulated co-activator 1 (CRTC1) and SRY-related HMG-box 10 (SOX10) but not β-catenin at the MITF-M promoter. Meanwhile, chemical inhibition of KIT activity abolished SCF-induced melanin production in epidermal melanocyte cultures, as well as protected the skin from UV-B-induced hyperpigmentation in HRM2 mice or brownish guinea pigs, in which it down-regulated the expression of MITF-M de novo at the promoter level. Conclusion: We propose the targeting of SCF/KIT-inducible MITF-M expression as a strategy in the therapeutics for acquired pigmentary disorders.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was financially supported by grants (2016R1A6A3A11933508, 2018R1D1A1B07045596) or MRC program (2017R1A5A2015541) from the National Research Foundation of Korea; a grant (WISET 2017-519) from the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT; and the foresting project of Osong academy-industry convergence from the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
- Chemical inhibition
- Epidermal melanocyte
- MITF-M activity
- Skin pigmentation
- Stem cell factor
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't