UVB-induced cutaneous photodamage/photoaging is characterized by qualitative and quantitative deterioration in dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) components such as collagen and elastic fibers. Disappearance of microfibrillar-associated protein 4 (MFAP-4), a possible limiting factor for cutaneous elasticity, was documented in photoaged dermis, but its function is poorly understood. To characterize its possible contribution to photoprotection, MFAP-4 expression was either augmented or inhibited in a human skin xenograft photodamage murine model and human fibroblasts. Xenografted skin with enhanced MFAP-4 expression was protected from UVB-induced photodamage/photoaging accompanied by the prevention of ECM degradation and aggravated elasticity. Additionally, remarkably increased or decreased fibrillin-1-based microfibril development was observed when fibroblasts were treated with recombinant MFAP-4 or with MFAP-4-specific siRNA, respectively. Immunoprecipitation analysis confirmed direct interaction between MFAP-4 and fibrillin-1. Taken together, our findings reveal the essential role of MFAP-4 in photoprotection and offer new therapeutic opportunities to prevent skin-associated pathologies.
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