Research Article|Articles in Press

Benvitimod inhibits MCM6-meditated proliferation of keratinocytes by regulating the JAK/STAT3 pathway

  • Zhenguo Cai
    Department of Dermatology, Minhang Hospital, Fudan University, Central Hospital of Minhang District, Shanghai, China
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  • Yibin Zeng
    Department of Dermatology, Minhang Hospital, Fudan University, Central Hospital of Minhang District, Shanghai, China
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  • Xunlong Shi
    Department of Biological Medicines & Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Immunotherapeutics, Fudan University School of Pharmacy, Shanghai, China
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  • Xilin Zhang
    Department of Dermatology, Shanghai Skin Disease Hospital, School of Medicine, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
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  • Haiyan Zhu
    Corresponding author.
    Department of Biological Medicines & Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Immunotherapeutics, Fudan University School of Pharmacy, Shanghai, China
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  • Wuqing Wang
    Corresponding author at: Department of Dermatology, Minhang Hospital, Fudan University, Central Hospital of Minhang District, Shanghai, 201199, China.
    Department of Dermatology, Minhang Hospital, Fudan University, Central Hospital of Minhang District, Shanghai, China

    Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
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      • MCM6 is upregulated in psoriatic lesions and required for keratinocytes proliferation.
      • MCM6 is regulated by the JAK/STAT3 pathway in keratinocytes.
      • Benvitimod could inhibit the JAK/STAT3 pathway by activating AHR of keratinocytes.



      Benvitimod (Tapinarof), as a small-molecule topical therapeutical aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)-modulating agent, is in clinical development for treating psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Benvitimod reduces proinflammatory cytokines in psoriasis by specifically binding and activation of AHR. However, whether benvitimod can inhibit keratinocyte proliferation remains unclear. Minichromosome maintenance protein 6 (MCM6) is a key element of the prereplication complex (pre-RC) assembly which is one of the essential steps in the initiation of DNA replication for cell proliferation.


      This study aimed to determine whether benvitimod could reduce the excessive proliferation of psoriatic keratinocytes by inhibiting MCM6.


      We examined the inhibitory effect of benvitimod on MCM6-mediated proliferation of keratinocytes by HaCaT cells in vitro and an IMQ-induced psoriatic model of mice in vivo.


      Epidermal MCM6 expression was enhanced in the skin lesions of psoriatic patients. The experiments further revealed that MCM6 was required for the proliferation of keratinocytes and governed by the IL-22/STAT3 pathway. In addition, the antiproliferation effect of benvitimod is achieved by the inhibition of p-JAK1 and p-JAK2, which further restrained the activation of STAT3 in keratinocytes. Lastly, benvitimod could repressed imiquimod-induced skin lesions and the expression of epidermal MCM6 and p-STAT3 in mice. Moreover, knockdown of AHR in keratinocytes enhanced the activation of JAK1 and JAK2.


      The findings reveal that benvitimod could decrease MCM6-mediated proliferation of keratinocytes by affecting the JAK/STAT3 pathway, thereby serving as a new treatment modality for psoriasis.


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