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Jux B.,Leibniz Institute for Environmental Medical Research IUF | Jux B.,University of Bonn | Kadow S.,Leibniz Institute for Environmental Medical Research IUF | Luecke S.,Karolinska Institutet | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Investigative Dermatology | Year: 2011

Melanogenesis is the vital response to protect skin cells against UVB-induced DNA damage. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which transfer it to surrounding keratinocytes. Recently, we have shown that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is part of the UVB-stress response in epidermal keratinocytes. UVB triggers AhR signaling by generating the AhR ligand 6-formylindolo(3,2-b) carbazole from tryptophan. We show here that normal murine melanocytes express functional AhR. Using standard UVB tanning protocols, AhR-deficient mice were shown to tan significantly weaker than wild-type mice; in these mice, tyrosinase activity in the epidermis was lower as well. Tanning responses and tyrosinase activity, however, were normal in keratinocyte-specific conditional AhR knockout mice, indicating that release of melanogenic keratinocyte factors is unaffected by the UVB-AhR signaling pathway and that the diminished tanning response in AhR-/- mice is confined to the level of melanocytes. Accordingly, the number of dihydroxyphenylalanin-positive melanocytes increased significantly less on UVB irradiation in AhR-/- mice than in wild-type mice. This difference in melanocyte number was associated with a significantly reduced expression of stem cell factor-1 and c-kit in melanocytes of AhR-/- mice. Thus, the environmental signal sensor AhR links solar UVB radiation to skin pigmentation. © 2011 The Society for Investigative Dermatology.

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