dsRNA Sensing Induces Loss of Cell Identity

Rongying Zhou, Gaofeng Wang, Dongwon Kim, Sooah Kim, Nasif Islam, Ruosi Chen, Zixiao Wang, Ang Li, Edward F. McCarthy, Li Li, Zhiqi Hu, Luis A. Garza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


How cell and tissue identity persist despite constant cell turnover is an important biologic question with cell therapy implications. Although many mechanisms exist, we investigated the controls for site-specific gene expression in skin, given its diverse structures and functions. For example, the transcriptome of in vivo palmoplantar (i.e., volar) epidermis is globally unique, including Keratin 9 (KRT9). Although volar fibroblasts have the capacity to induce KRT9 in nonvolar keratinocytes, we show here that volar keratinocytes continue to express KRT9 in in vitro solo cultures. Despite this, KRT9 expression is lost with volar keratinocyte passaging, despite stable hypomethylation of its promoter. Coincident with KRT9 loss is a gain of the primitive keratin 7 and a signature of dsRNA sensing, including the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) receptor DExD/H-Box Helicase 58 (DDX58/RIG-I). Exogenous dsRNA inhibits KRT9 expression in early passage volar keratinocytes or in vivo footpads of wild-type mice. Loss of DDX58 in passaged volar keratinocytes rescues KRT9 and inhibits KRT7 expression. Additionally, DDX58-null mice are resistant to the ability of dsRNA to inhibit KRT9 expression. These results show that the sensing of dsRNA is critical for loss of cell-specific gene expression; our results have important implications for how dsRNA sensing is important outside of immune pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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