Psoriasis is a complex, immune-mediated skin disease involving a wide range of epithelial and immune cells. The underlying mechanisms that govern the epidermal defects and immunological dysfunction observed in this condition remain largely unknown. In recent years, the emergence of new, more sophisticated models has allowed the evolution of our knowledge of the pathogenesis of psoriasis. The development of psoriatic skin biomaterials that more closely mimic native psoriatic skin provides advanced preclinical models that will prove relevant in predicting clinical outcomes. In this study, we used a tissue-engineered, two-layered (dermis and epidermis) human skin substitute enriched in T cells as a biomaterial to study both the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in psoriasis' pathogenesis. Gene profiling on microarrays revealed significant changes in the profile of genes expressed by the psoriatic skin substitutes compared with the healthy ones. Two genes, namely, PTPRM and NELL2, whose products influence the ERK1/2 signaling pathway have been identified as being deregulated in psoriatic substitutes. Deregulation of these genes supports excessive activation of the ERK1/2 pathway in psoriatic skin substitutes. Most importantly, electrophoresis mobility shift assays provided evidence that the DNA-binding properties of two downstream nuclear targets of ERK1/2, both the NF-κB and Sp1 transcription factors, are increased under psoriatic conditions. Moreover, the results obtained with the inhibition of RSK, a downstream effector of ERK1/2, supported the therapeutic potential of inhibiting this signaling pathway for psoriasis treatment. In conclusion, this two-layered human psoriatic skin substitute enriched in T cells may prove particularly useful in deciphering the mechanistic details of psoriatic pathogenesis and provide a relevant biomaterial for the study of potential therapeutic targets.
Keywords: ERK1/2; PTPRM; keratinocytes; microarray; psoriasis; tissue-engineered skin; transcriptome.