Unraveling the mechanisms responsible for the onset of catagen

Abstract : The hair follicle is a skin micro-organ specific to mammals and responsible for the formation of the hair. During postnatal life, the hair follicle undergoes recurrent phases of growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and rest (telogen) termed the hair cycle. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the hair cycle recapitulate some of the events occurring during morphogenesis. Despite significant advances in the understanding of biology of the hair follicle, the mechanisms regulating the switch from anagen to catagen remain mysterious. Fgf5, a member of the fibroblast growth factor family, has been proposed as a key regulator of the transition between anagen and catagen. Mice that do not produce active Fgf5 have an angora (go/go) phenotype characterized by an extended anagen phase and long hairs. Nevertheless, Fgf5 null hair follicles still enter catagen, suggesting that other mechanisms contribute to the control of the hair cycle. Previous work in the laboratory using Fgf5Lacz/LacZ null mice has unraveled a close connection between the onset of catagen and the diameter of the hair. Using the whisker follicle as a model system, we have confirmed these results and demonstrated by in situ hybridization that the expression of the Fgf5 gene is switched-on in the supra-bulbar region of the outer root sheath, progressively extends towards the lower extremity of the outer root sheath and is switched-off in the supra-bulbar region of the outer root sheath several days before the onset of catagen. We have also demonstrated that the number of cell layers in the hair cortex progressively increases with time to reach the exact same number a few days before the end of anagen in both wild-type and Fgf5 null follicles confirming our working hypothesis that Fgf5 does not directly trigger catagen. Next, we have demonstrated for the first time that the basal cortex-forming cells could divide symmetrically. These rare symmetrical divisions result in the formation of additional cell layers in the cortex. These results support our working hypothesis that a complex regulatory loop involving the outer sheath, the dermal papilla (that express Fgfr1, the Fgf5 receptor), the cortical matrix and the supra bulbar region is critical in controlling whisker growth. We have then demonstrated by q-RTPCR and immunostaining that several mechanosensitive channels are specifically expressed in the regions of interest. Moreover, several genes important for signaling are also expressed in these regions. Altogether, our results support the provocative hypothesis that the progressive increase in the width of the hair induces a mechanical pressure that leads to the activation of mechanosensitive channels, which in turn activate specific signaling pathways and ultimately result in the control of the expression of the Fgf5 gene in the supra-bulbar region of the outer root sheath and then in the control of the hair cycle.
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Marine Duchamp de Lageneste. Unraveling the mechanisms responsible for the onset of catagen. Development Biology. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017PA066150⟩. ⟨tel-02155832⟩

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