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J Cell Sci. 2008 May 1;121(Pt 9):1435-43. doi: 10.1242/jcs.018689. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Control of thrombin signaling through PI3K is a mechanism underlying plasticity between hair follicle dermal sheath and papilla cells.

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  • 1Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland.


In hair follicles, dermal papilla (DP) and dermal sheath (DS) cells exhibit striking levels of plasticity, as each can regenerate both cell types. Here, we show that thrombin induces a phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt pathway-dependent acquisition of DS-like properties by DP cells in vitro, involving increased proliferation rate, acquisition of ;myofibroblastic' contractile properties and a decreased capacity to sustain growth and survival of keratinocytes. The thrombin inhibitor protease nexin 1 [PN-1, also known as SERPINE2) regulates all those effects in vitro. Accordingly, the PI3K-Akt pathway is constitutively activated and expression of myofibroblastic marker smooth-muscle actin is enhanced in vivo in hair follicle dermal cells from PN-1(-/-) mice. Furthermore, physiological PN-1 disappearance and upregulation of the thrombin receptor PAR-1 (also known as F2R) during follicular regression in wild-type mice also correlate with such changes in DP cell characteristics. Our results indicate that control of thrombin signaling interferes with hair follicle dermal cells plasticity to regulate their function.

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