Dickkopf 1 (DKK1) regulates skin pigmentation and thickness by affecting Wnt/β-catenin signaling in keratinocytes

Yuji Yamaguchi, Thierry Passeron, Toshihiko Hoashi, Hidenori Watabe, François Rouzaud, Ken Ichi Yasumoto, Takahiko Hara, Chiharu Tohyama, Ichiro Katayama, Toru Miki, Vincent J. Hearing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


The epidermis (containing primarily keratinocytes and melanocytes) overlies the dermis (containing primarily fibroblasts) of human skin. We previously reported that dickkopf 1 (DKK1) secreted by fibroblasts in the dermis elicits the hypopigmented phenotype of palmoplantar skin due to suppression of melanocyte function and growth via the regulation of two important signaling factors, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) and β-catenin. We now report that treatment of keratinocytes with DKK1 increases their proliferation and decreases their uptake of melanin and that treatment of reconstructed skin with DKK1 induces a thicker and less pigmented epidermis. DNA microarray analysis revealed many genes regulated by DKK1, and several with critical expression patterns were validated by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting. DKK1 induced the expression of keratin 9 and α-Kelch-like ECT2 interacting protein (αKLEIP) but down-regulated the expression of β-catenin, glycogen synthase kinase 3β, protein kinase C, and proteinase-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2), which is consistent with the expression patterns of those proteins in human palmoplantar skin. Treatment of reconstructed skin with DKK1 reproduced the expression patterns of those key proteins observed in palmoplantar skin. These findings further elucidate why human skin is thicker and paler on the palms and soles than on the trunk through topographical and site-specific differences in the secretion of DKK1 by dermal fibroblasts that affects the overlying epidermis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009-1020
Number of pages12
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Epithelial cell transforming sequence 2
  • Glucose synthase kinase
  • Keratin 9
  • Melanocyte
  • Protease-activated receptor 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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