Archives of dermatological research

Withaferin A abolishes the stem cell factor-stimulated pigmentation of human epidermal equivalents by interrupting the auto-phosphorylation of c-KIT in human melanocytes.

PMID 25376854


We characterized the mechanism(s) underlying the abrogating effect of withaferin A (WFA) on the stem cell factor (SCF)-stimulated pigmentation of human epidermal equivalents (HEEs). Increased gene and protein expression levels of tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein1, dopachrome tautomerase, PMEL17, c-KIT and their targeted transcription factor, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) were significantly reversed at days 7 and 10, respectively, by treatment with WFA. In WFA-treated normal human melanocytes (NHMs), there was a marked deficiency in the SCF-stimulated series of phosphorylations of c-KIT, Shc, Raf-1, MEK, ERK, MITF and CREB. Treatment with dithiothreitol (DTT) distinctly abolished the suppressive effect of WFA on the SCF-stimulated phosphorylation of c-KIT in NHMs. On the other hand, even after incubation at 4 °C for 2 h with 5 nM SCF, followed by the removal of unbound SCF by washing and then raising the temperature to 37 °C to start the signaling reaction, c-KIT was distinctly phosphorylated to a similar extent by incubation for 15 min with SCF only or with SCF + WFA. These findings indicate that WFA attenuates the SCF-induced activation of c-KIT in NHMs by interrupting the auto-phosphorylation of c-KIT through DTT-suppressible Michael addition thioalkylation reactions without interrupting the binding of SCF to the c-KIT receptor.