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A barrier to water loss is vital to maintaining life on dry land. Formation of the mammalian skin barrier requires both the essential fatty acid linoleate and the two lipoxygenases 12R-lipoxygenase (12R-LOX) and epidermal lipoxygenase-3 (eLOX3), although their roles are poorly understood. Linoleate occurs in O-linoleoyl-ω-hydroxyceramide, which, after hydrolysis of the linoleate moiety, is covalently attached to protein via the free ω-hydroxyl of the ceramide, forming the corneocyte lipid envelope, a scaffold between lipid and protein that helps seal the barrier. Here we show using HPLC-UV, LC-MS, GC-MS, and (1)H NMR that O-linoleoyl-ω-hydroxyceramide is oxygenated in a regio- and stereospecific fashion by the consecutive actions of 12R-LOX and eLOX3 and that these products occur naturally in pig and mouse epidermis. 12R-LOX forms 9R-hydroperoxy-linoleoyl-ω-hydroxyceramide, further converted by eLOX3 to specific epoxyalcohol (9R,10R-trans-epoxy-11E-13R-hydroxy) and 9-keto-10E,12Z esters of the ceramide; an epoxy-ketone derivative (9R,10R-trans-epoxy-11E-13-keto) is the most prominent oxidized ceramide in mouse skin. These products are absent in 12R-LOX-deficient mice, which crucially display a near total absence of protein-bound ω-hydroxyceramides and of the corneocyte lipid envelope and die shortly after birth from transepidermal water loss. We conclude that oxygenation of O-linoleoyl-ω-hydroxyceramide is required to facilitate the ester hydrolysis and allow bonding of the ω-hydroxyceramide to protein, providing a coherent explanation for the roles of multiple components in epidermal barrier function. Our study uncovers a hitherto unknown biochemical pathway in which the enzymic oxygenation of ceramides is involved in building a crucial structure of the epidermal barrier.
Investigations into the human skin proteome by classical analytical procedures have not addressed spatial molecular distributions in whole-skin biopsies. The aim of this study was to develop methods for the detection of protein signatures and their spatial disposition in human skin using advanced molecular imaging technology based on mass spectrometry technologies. This technology allows for the generation of protein images at specific molecular weight values without the use of antibody while maintaining tissue architecture. Two experimental approaches were employed: MALDI-MS profiling, where mass spectra were taken from discrete locations based on histology, and MALDI-IMS imaging, where complete molecular images were obtained at various MW values. In addition, proteins were identified by in situ tryptic digestion, sequence analysis of the fragment peptides and protein database searching. We have detected patterns of protein differences that exist between epidermis and dermis as well as subtle regional differences between the papillary and reticular dermis. Furthermore, we were able to detect proteins that are constitutive features of human skin as well as those associated with unique markers of individual variability.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Skin and hair follicle morphogenesis and homeostasis require the integration of multiple signaling pathways, including Hedgehog (Hh) and Wingless (Wnt), and oriented cell divisions, all of which have been associated with primary cilia. Although studies have shown that disrupting dermal cilia causes follicular arrest and attenuated Hh signaling, little is known about the role of epidermal cilia. Here, epidermal cilia function was analyzed using conditional alleles of the ciliogenic genes Ift88 and Kif3a. At birth, epidermal cilia mutants appeared normal, but developed basaloid hyperplasia and ingrowths into the dermis of the ventrum with age. In addition, follicles in the tail were disorganized and had excess sebaceous gland lobules. Epidermal cilia mutants displayed fewer long-term label-retaining cells, suggesting altered stem cell homeostasis. Abnormal proliferation and differentiation were evident from lineage-tracing studies and showed an expansion of follicular cells into the interfollicular epidermis, as is seen during wound repair. These phenotypes were not associated with changes in canonical Wnt activity or oriented cell division. However, nuclear accumulation of the ΔNp63 transcription factor, which is involved in stratification, keratinocyte differentiation and wound repair, was increased, whereas the Hh pathway was repressed. Intriguingly, the phenotypes were not typical of those associated with loss of Hh signaling but exhibited similarities with those of mice in which ΔNp63 is overexpressed in the epidermis. Collectively, these data indicate that epidermal primary cilia may function in stress responses and epidermal homeostasis involving pathways other than those typically associated with primary cilia.
IL-20 and IL-24 share two different heterodimeric receptors consisting of either IL-20R1 or IL-22R1 and a common IL-20R2 subunit, whereas IL-22 signals through IL-22R1/IL-10R2. However, until now, only IL-20 and IL-22 have been proven to play important roles in vivo in the epidermis where all four receptor subunits are expressed. In this study, we show that IL-24 transgenic mice manifest many similar phenotypes to that of IL-20 and IL-22, including neonatal lethality, epidermal hyperplasia, and abnormality in keratinocyte differentiation. These results support a largely redundant role in epidermal functions for IL-20, IL-22, and IL-24, which seem to be IL-22R1 dependent. Moreover, we show that IL-24 transgenic mice exhibit infiltrating macrophages in the dermis with concomitant increases in MCP-1 production from both keratinocytes in the epidermis and immune infiltrates in the adjacent dermal layer below. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the homodimeric IL-20R2 soluble receptor is a potent blocker for IL-24 and can be used to further dissect the crosstalk among the IL-20 family of cytokines in normal development as well as in autoimmune diseases.
Activating Ras mutations occur in a large portion of human tumors. Yet, the signaling pathways involved in Ras-induced tumor formation remain incompletely understood. The mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways are among the best studied Ras effector pathways. The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase isoforms are important regulators of key biological processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, survival, inflammation, senescence, and tumorigenesis. However, the specific in vivo contribution of individual p38 isoforms to skin tumor development has not been elucidated. Recent studies have shown that p38delta, a p38 family member, functions as an important regulator of epidermal keratinocyte differentiation and survival. In the present study, we have assessed the effect of p38delta deficiency on skin tumor development in vivo by subjecting p38delta knockout mice to a two-stage 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate chemical skin carcinogenesis protocol. We report that mice lacking p38delta gene exhibited a marked resistance to development of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced skin papillomas, with increased latency and greatly reduced incidence, multiplicity, and size of tumors compared with wild-type mice. Our data suggest that the underlying mechanism for reduced susceptibility to skin carcinogenesis in p38delta-null mice involves a defect in proliferative response associated with aberrant signaling through the two major transformation-promoting pathways: extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2-activator protein 1 and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3. These findings strongly suggest an in vivo role for p38delta in promoting cell proliferation and tumor development in epidermis and may have therapeutic implication for skin cancer.
Lrig1 is a marker of human interfollicular epidermal stem cells and helps maintain stem cell quiescence. We show that, in mouse epidermis, Lrig1 defines the hair follicle junctional zone adjacent to the sebaceous glands and infundibulum. Lrig1 is a Myc target gene; loss of Lrig1 increases the proliferative capacity of stem cells in culture and results in epidermal hyperproliferation in vivo. Lrig1-expressing cells can give rise to all of the adult epidermal lineages in skin reconstitution assays. However, during homeostasis and on retinoic acid stimulation, they are bipotent, contributing to the sebaceous gland and interfollicular epidermis. beta-catenin activation increases the size of the junctional zone compartment, and loss of Lrig1 causes a selective increase in beta-catenin-induced ectopic hair follicle formation in the interfollicular epidermis. Our results suggest that Lrig1-positive cells constitute a previously unidentified reservoir of adult mouse interfollicular epidermal stem cells.
Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 is induced by multiple cell types in the skin during processes involved in both normal and pathological tissue remodeling. We previously demonstrated that MMP3-null animals have an increased sensitivity to the development of squamous cell carcinoma, suggesting that overall, MMP3 has a protective role in squamous cell carcinoma. However, not all cellular responses affected by a loss of MMP3 are tumor-protective, and tumor expression of MMP3 is co-incident with an invasive tumor phenotype. Transgenic mice were generated with MMP3 targeted to keratinocytes to examine the biological role of tumor-produced MMP3. Overexpression of MMP3 reduced tumor multiplicity in response to chemically induced squamous cell carcinoma. Vascular density was increased with MMP3 overexpression; however, other cellular processes, including tumor growth and leukocyte infiltration, were unaffected. In accordance with the change in tumor multiplicity, SP-1 murine papilloma cell lines that were generated to stably express MMP3 lost the capacity to establish palpable tumors following orthotopic injection into immunocompromised mice. Analysis of epidermal biopsies taken at 1 to 2 weeks postinjection revealed that these MMP3-expressing Sp-1 lines had reduced levels of proliferation and pronounced differentiation. These same cells demonstrated an increased ability to differentiate in vitro, an effect that was inhibited by broad-spectrum MMP and selective MMP3 inhibition. These studies suggest that keratinocyte expression of MMP3 promotes cellular differentiation, impeding tumor establishment during tumorigenesis.
beta-Catenin signaling is required for hair follicle development, but it is unknown whether its activation is sufficient to globally program embryonic epidermis to hair follicle fate. To address this, we mutated endogenous epithelial beta-catenin to a dominant-active form in vivo. Hair follicle placodes were expanded and induced prematurely in activated beta-catenin mutant embryos, but failed to invaginate or form multilayered structures. Eventually, the entire epidermis adopted hair follicle fate, broadly expressing hair shaft keratins in place of epidermal stratification proteins. Mutant embryonic skin was precociously innervated, and displayed prenatal pigmentation, a phenomenon never observed in wild-type controls. Thus, beta-catenin signaling programs the epidermis towards placode and hair shaft fate at the expense of epidermal differentiation, and activates signals directing pigmentation and innervation. In transcript profiling experiments, we identified elevated expression of Sp5, a direct beta-catenin target and transcriptional repressor. We show that Sp5 normally localizes to hair follicle placodes and can suppress epidermal differentiation gene expression. We identified the pigmentation regulators Foxn1, Adamts20 and Kitl, and the neural guidance genes Sema4c, Sema3c, Unc5b and Unc5c, as potential mediators of the effects of beta-catenin signaling on pigmentation and innervation. Our data provide evidence for a new paradigm in which, in addition to promoting hair follicle placode and hair shaft fate, beta-catenin signaling actively suppresses epidermal differentiation and directs pigmentation and nerve fiber growth. Controlled downregulation of beta-catenin signaling is required for normal placode patterning within embryonic ectoderm, hair follicle downgrowth, and adoption of the full range of follicular fates.
Skin plays an essential role, mediated in part by its remarkable vascular plasticity, in adaptation to environmental stimuli. Certain vertebrates, such as amphibians, respond to hypoxia in part through the skin; but it is unknown whether this tissue can influence mammalian systemic adaptation to low oxygen levels. We have found that epidermal deletion of the hypoxia-responsive transcription factor HIF-1alpha inhibits renal erythropoietin (EPO) synthesis in response to hypoxia. Conversely, mice with an epidermal deletion of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) factor, a negative regulator of HIF, have increased EPO synthesis and polycythemia. We show that nitric oxide release induced by the HIF pathway acts on cutaneous vascular flow to increase systemic erythropoietin expression. These results demonstrate that in mice the skin is a critical mediator of systemic responses to environmental oxygen.
The recent convergence of genetic and biochemical evidence on the activities of lipoxygenase (LOX) enzymes has implicated the production of hepoxilin derivatives (fatty acid epoxyalcohols) in the pathways leading to formation of the water-impermeable barrier of the outer epidermis. The enzymes 12R-LOX and eLOX3 are mutated in a rare form of congenital ichthyosis, and, in vitro, the two enzymes function together to convert arachidonic acid to a specific hepoxilin. Taken together, these lines of evidence suggest an involvement of these enzymes and their products in skin barrier function in all normal subjects. The natural occurrence of the specific hepoxilin products, and their biological role, whether structural or signaling, remain to be defined.