Wnt inhibitory factor (WIF)-1 promotes melanogenesis in normal human melanocytes



Wnt signaling plays a role in the differentiation as well as the development of melanocytes. Using a microarray analysis, hyperpigmentary skin of melasma expressed high levels of Wnt inhibitory factor-1 (WIF-1) compared with perilesional normal skin. In this study, the expression and functional roles of WIF-1 on melanocytes were investigated. WIF-1 was expressed both in the melanocytes of normal human skin and in cultured melanocytes. The upregulation of WIF-1 on cultured normal human melanocytes significantly induced expressions of MITF and tyrosinase, which were associated with increased melanin content and tyrosinase activity. Consistent with the stimulatory effect of WIF-1, WIF-1 siRNA reduced melanogenesis in the cells. Moreover, WIF-1 increases pigmentation in melanocytes co-cultured with WIF-1-overexpressed fibroblasts and of organ-cultured human skin. These findings suggest that melanocytes express WIF-1 constitutively in vivo and in vitro and that WIF-1 promotes melanogenesis in normal human melanocytes.