The RAS signaling pathway is constitutively activated in psoriatic keratinocytes. We expressed activated H-RASV12G in suprabasal keratinocytes of adult mice and observed rapid development of a psoriasis-like skin phenotype characterized by basal keratinocyte hyperproliferation, acanthosis, hyperkeratosis, intraepidermal neutrophil microabscesses and increased Th1/Th17 and Tc1/Tc17 skin infiltration. The majority of skin infiltrating CD8+ T cells co-expressed IFN-γ and IL-17A. When RAS was expressed on a Rag1−/− background, microabscess formation, iNOS expression and keratinocyte hyperproliferation were suppressed. Depletion of CD8+ but not CD4+ T cells reduced cutaneous and systemic inflammation, the RAS-induced increase in cutaneous Th17 and IL-17+ γΔ T cells, and epidermal hyperproliferation to levels similar to a Rag1−/− background. Reconstitution of Rag1−/− inducible RAS mice with purified CD8+ T cells restored microabscess formation and epidermal hyperproliferation. Neutralization of IFN-γ but not IL-17A in CD8+ T cell reconstituted Rag1−/− mice expressing RAS blocked CD8-mediated skin inflammation, iNOS expression and keratinocyte hyperproliferation. These results show for that CD8+ T cells can orchestrate skin inflammation with psoriasis-like pathology in response to constitutive RAS activation in keratinocytes, and this is primarily mediated through IFN-γ.
CD8+ T cells; RAS; psoriasis model; inflammation
Prostaglandins (PGs) are key inflammatory mediators involved in wound healing and regulating hair growth; however, their role in skin regeneration after injury is unknown. Using wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis (WIHN) as a marker of skin regeneration, we hypothesized that PGD2 decreases follicle neogenesis. PGE2 and PGD2 were elevated early and late respectively during wound healing. The levels of WIHN, lipocalin-type prostaglandin D2 synthase (Ptgds) and its product PGD2 each varied significantly among background strains of mice after wounding and all correlated such that the highest Ptgds and PGD2 levels were associated with the lowest amount of regeneration. Additionally, an alternatively spliced transcript variant of Ptgds missing exon 3 correlated with high regeneration in mice. Exogenous application of PGD2 decreased WIHN in wild type mice and PGD2 receptor Gpr44 null mice showed increased WIHN compared to strain-matched control mice. Furthermore, Gpr44 null mice were resistant to PGD2-induced inhibition of follicle neogenesis. In all, these findings demonstrate that PGD2 inhibits hair follicle regeneration through the Gpr44 receptor and imply that inhibition of PGD2 production or Gpr44 signaling will promote skin regeneration.
In the event of a radionuclear attack or nuclear accident, the skin would be the first barrier exposed to radiation, though skin injury can progress over days to years following exposure. Chronic oxidative stress has been implicated as being a potential contributor to the progression of delayed radiation-induced injury to skin and other organs. To examine the causative role of oxidative stress in delayed radiation-induced skin injury, including impaired wound healing, we tested a synthetic superoxide dismutase (SOD)/catalase mimetic, EUK-207, in a rat model of combined skin irradiation and wound injury. Administered systemically, beginning 48 h after irradiation, EUK-207 mitigated radiation dermatitis, suppressed indicators of tissue oxidative stress, and enhanced wound healing. Evaluation of gene expression in irradiated skin at 30 days after exposure revealed a significant upregulation of several key genes involved in detoxication of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. This gene expression pattern was primarily reversed by EUK-207 therapy. These results demonstrate that oxidative stress plays a critical role in the progression of radiation-induced skin injury, and that the injury can be mitigated by appropriate antioxidant compounds administered 48 h after exposure.
EUK-207; radiation dermatitis; oxidative stress; wound healing
Familial melanoma is associated with point mutations in the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor p16INK4A (p16). We recently reported that p16 regulates intracellular oxidative stress in a cell cycle-independent manner. Here, we constructed 12 different familial melanoma-associated point mutants spanning the p16 coding region and analyzed their capacity to regulate cell-cycle phase and suppress reactive oxygen species (ROS). Compared to wild-type p16 which fully restored both functions in p16-deficient fibroblasts, various p16 mutants differed in their capacity to normalize ROS and cell cycle profiles. While some mutations did not impair either function, others impaired both. Interestingly, several impaired cell-cycle (R24Q, R99P, V126D) or oxidative function (A36P, A57V, P114S) selectively, indicating that these two functions of p16 can be uncoupled. Similar activities were confirmed with selected mutants in human melanoma cells. Many mutations impairing both cell-cycle and oxidative functions, or only cell cycle function, localize to the third ankyrin repeat of the p16 molecule. Alternatively, most mutations impairing oxidative but not cell-cycle function, or those not impairing either function, lie outside this region. These results demonstrate that particular familial melanoma-associated mutations in p16 can selectively compromise these two independent tumor-suppressor functions, which may be mediated by distinct regions of the protein.
p16; melanoma; oxidative stress; cell cycle
A signal first arising in the dermis to initiate the development of hair follicles has been described for many decades. Wnt is the earliest signal known to be intimately involved in hair follicle induction. However, it is not clear whether the inductive signal of Wnt arises intradermally or intraepidermally. Whether Wnt acts as the first dermal signal to initiate hair follicle development also remains unclear. Here, we report that Wnt production mediated by Gpr177, the mouse Wls orthologue encoding a Wnt trafficking regulator, is essential for hair follicle induction. Cell-type specific abrogation of the signal reveals that only epidermal, but not dermal, production of Wnt is required. An intra-epidermal Wnt signal is necessary and sufficient for hair follicle initiation. But, the subsequent development depends on reciprocal signaling crosstalk of epidermal and dermal cells. Wnt signals within the epidermis and dermis, and crossing between the epidermis and dermis, have distinct roles and specific functions in skin development. This study not only defines the cell type responsible for Wnt production, but also reveals a highly dynamic regulation of Wnt signaling at different steps of hair follicle morphogenesis. Our findings uncover a mechanism underlying hair follicle development orchestrated by the Wnt pathway.
Gpr177; Wntless; β-catenin; hair placode and skin
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive cutaneous neuroendocrine tumor with high mortality rates. Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), identified in the majority of MCC, may drive tumorigenesis via viral T antigens. However, mechanisms underlying pathogenesis in MCPyV-negative MCC remain poorly understood. To nominate genes contributing to pathogenesis of MCPyV-negative MCC, we performed DNA microarray analysis on 30 MCCs. MCPyV status of MCCs was determined by PCR for viral DNA and RNA. 1593 probe-sets were differentially expressed between MCPyV-negative and -positive MCC, with significant differential expression defined as at least 2-fold change in either direction and p-value of ≤ 0.05. MCPyV-negative tumors showed decreased RB1 expression, whereas MCPyV-positive tumors were enriched for immune response genes. Validation studies included immunohistochemistry demonstration of decreased RB protein expression in MCPyV-negative tumors and increased peritumoral CD8+ T lymphocytes surrounding MCPyV-positive tumors. In conclusion, our data suggest that loss of RB1 expression may play an important role in tumorigenesis of MCPyV-negative MCC. Functional and clinical validation studies are needed to determine whether this tumor suppressor pathway represents an avenue for targeted therapy.
Fn14, the cell surface receptor for TWEAK, is over-expressed in various human solid tumor types and can be a negative prognostic indicator. We detected Fn14 expression in ~60% of the melanoma cell lines we tested, including both B-Raf WT and B-RafV600E lines. Tumor tissue microarray analysis indicated that Fn14 expression was low in normal skin but elevated in 173/190 (92%) of primary melanoma specimens and in 86/150 (58%) of melanoma metastases tested. We generated both a chemical conjugate composed of the rGel toxin and the anti-Fn14 antibody ITEM-4 (designated ITEM4-rGel) and a humanized, dimeric single-chain antibody of ITEM-4 fused to rGel (designated hSGZ). Both ITEM4-rGel and hSGZ were highly cytotoxic to a panel of different melanoma cell lines. Mechanistic studies showed that both immunotoxins induced melanoma cell necrosis. Also, these immunotoxins could up-regulate the cellular expression of Fn14 and trigger cell signaling events similar to the Fn14 ligand TWEAK. Finally, treatment of mice bearing human melanoma MDA-MB-435 xenografts with either ITEM4-rGel or hSGZ showed significant tumor growth inhibition compared to controls. We conclude that Fn14 is a novel therapeutic target in melanoma and the hSGZ construct appears to warrant further development as a novel therapeutic agent against Fn14-positive melanoma.
Melanoma; Fn14; targeted therapeutics
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by epidermal tight junction (TJ) defects and a propensity for Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) skin infections. S. aureus is sensed by many pattern recognition receptors including toll-like receptor (TLR) 2. We hypothesized that an effective innate immune response will include skin barrier repair and that this response is impaired in AD subjects. S. aureus-derived peptidoglycan (PGN) and synthetic TLR2 agonists enhanced TJ barrier and increased expression of TJ proteins, CLDN1, CLDN23, occludin and ZO-1 in primary human keratinocytes. A TLR2 agonist enhanced skin barrier recovery in human epidermis wounded by tape-stripping. Tlr2−/− mice had a delayed and incomplete barrier recovery following tape-stripping. AD subjects had reduced epidermal TLR2 expression as compared to nonatopic (NA) subjects, which inversely correlated (r= 0.654, P= 0.0004) with transepidermal water loss (TEWL). These observations indicate that TLR2 activation enhances skin barrier in murine and human skin and is an important part of a wound repair response. Reduced epidermal TLR2 expression observed in AD patients may play a role in their incompetent skin barrier.
Human hair follicles can be dissected out of the scalp skin and cultured in vitro in defined growth medium. Hair follicle organ cultures have previously been used to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which various factors regulate the maintenance and cycling of adult hair follicles. In this issue, Samuelov et al. transfected organ-cultured human hair follicles with siRNA nucleotides and suppressed the expression of the endogenous P-cadherin gene in follicular keratinocytes. Knocking-down the expression of P-cadherin in hair follicles in vitro recapitulated the hair follicle phenotype observed in patients with hypotrichosis with juvenile macular dystrophy (HJMD), and enabled the authors to establish a cause-effect relationship between loss of P-cadherin and suppression of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway and, upregulation of TGFβ2 during the development of the hair abnormalities observed in HJMD patients.
hair follicle; human; organ culture; in vitro model; genetic disorder
Limited evidence suggests that isotretinoin may be associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). To explore this association, we conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study in British Columbia, Canada, among participants who were newly treated with isotretinoin or topical acne medications. The entire population of untreated provincial residents aged 12–29 years served as the reference group. During the 12-year study period, we identified 46,922 participants treated with isotretinoin, 184,824 treated with a topical acne medication, and 1,526,946 untreated individuals. Compared with untreated individuals, we observed no significant association between isotretinoin use and IBD (rate ratio (RR) 1.14; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.92–1.41). As expected, we found no association with topical acne medications (RR 1.11; 95% CI 0.99–1.24). In prespecified secondary analyses, isotretinoin was associated with IBD among individuals aged 12–19 years (RR 1.39; 95% CI 1.03–1.87) and topical acne medications were associated with ulcerative colitis (RR 1.19; 95% CI 1.00–1.42). Our primary analyses found no association between isotretinoin and IBD. In prespecified secondary analyses, some evidence was found of associations with isotretinoin as well as topical acne medications, suggesting a possible association between IBD and acne itself. Additional research is needed to explore this possibility.
PMID: 23096714 CAMSID: cams3226
Vitiligo is a T-cell-mediated autoimmune disease of the skin. Progressive depigmentation accelerates in response to stress. Personal trauma, contact with bleaching phenols, overexposure to UV, and mechanical injury can lead to progressive loss of melanocytes. This study was focused on the role of stress protein heat shock protein (HSP)70 for translating stress into an autoimmune disease to melanocytes. Intracellular HSP70 can act as a cytoprotectant, preventing apoptosis in cells under stress. Isoform HSP70i can be secreted by live cells, and in prior in vitro studies, HSP70 has been shown to activate dendritic cells and elicit an immune response to chaperoned proteins and peptides. Here, the role of HSP70 in precipitating and perpetuating vitiligo was assessed in vivo in a mouse model of autoimmune vitiligo. In this model, depigmentation was introduced by gene gun vaccination with eukaryotic expression plasmids encoding melanocyte differentiation antigens. Inclusion of human and mouse-derived inducible HSP70 in the vaccination protocol significantly increased and accelerated depigmentation in this model, accompanied by the induction of prolonged humoral responses to HSP70. Cytotoxicity toward targets loaded with a K(b)-restricted tyrosinase-related protein 2-derived peptide correlated with depigmentation. The data presented strongly support a role for HSP70i in progressive depigmentation in vivo.
Skin changes from ionizing radiation have been scientifically documented since 1902 (Hymes et al., 2006). Ionizing radiation is a widely accepted form of treatment for various types of cancer. Despite the technological advances, radiation skin injury remains a significant problem. This injury, often referred to as radiation dermatitis, occurs in about 95% of patients receiving radiation therapy for cancer and ranges in severity from mild erythema to moist desquamation and ulceration (McQuestion, 2011; Salvo et al., 2010). Ionizing radiation is not only a concern for cancer patients, but also a public health concern due to the potential for and reality of a nuclear and/or radiological event. Recently, the United States has increased efforts to develop medical countermeasures to protect against radiation toxicities from acts of bioterrorism, as well as cancer treatment. Management of radiation dermatitis would improve the therapeutic benefit of radiation therapy for cancer and potentially the mortality expected in any “dirty bomb” attack (Benderitter et al., 2010; Muller and Meineke, 2010). Currently, there is no effective treatment to prevent or mitigate radiation skin injury. This review summarizes “the good, the bad and the ugly” of current and evolving knowledge regarding mechanisms of and treatments for radiation skin injury.
Primary cilia are small, cylindrical membrane protrusions on most vertebrate cell types. Despite an unassuming appearance, this organelle has proven to be a veritable nexus of tightly regulated cell-signal reception between the epithelium and mesenchyme. In this issue, Lehman et al. describe the necessity of Ift88 and intra-flagellar transport for signal reception of the sonic hedgehog pathway in the dermal papilla of developing hair follicles.
Pachyonychia congenita (PC) is a rare, autosomal dominant keratin disorder caused by mutations in four genes (KRT6A, KRT6B, KRT16, or KRT17). The International PC Research Registry is a database with information on patients' symptoms as well as genotypes. We sought to describe the heterogeneity of clinical symptoms and to investigate possible genotype–phenotype correlations in patients with two types of K16 mutations, p.Asn125 and p.Arg127, causing the PC-16 subtype of PC. We found that clinical symptoms depended on the type of amino-acid substitution. Patients with p.Asn125Asp and p.Arg127Pro mutations exhibited more severe disease than patients carrying p.Asn125Ser and p.Arg127Cys mutations in terms of age of onset of symptoms, extent of nail involvement, and impact on daily quality of life. We speculate that amino-acid substitutions causing larger, more disruptive changes to the K16 protein structure, such as a change in amino-acid charge in the p.Asn125Asp mutation or a bulky proline substitution in the p.Arg127Pro mutation, may also lead to more severe disease phenotypes. The variation in phenotypes seen with different substitutions at the same mutation site suggests a genotype–phenotype correlation. Knowledge of the exact gene defect is likely to assist in predicting disease prognosis and clinical management.
Cooperative interactions between growth factor signaling pathways are important elements in carcinoma progression. A model system combining transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and EGF was developed to investigate mechanisms underlying induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in ras-transformed human (HaCaT II-4) keratinocytes. Dual stimulation with TGF-β1+EGF resulted in keratinocyte “plasticity” and pronounced colony dispersal. The most highly expressed transcript, identified by mRNA profiling, encoded plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1; SERPINE1). PAI-1 negatively regulates plasmin-dependent matrix degradation, preserving a stromal scaffold permissive for keratinocyte motility. Mitogen-activated extracellular kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 signaling were required for maximal PAI-1 upregulation and TGF-β1+EGF-stimulated cell locomotion, as pharmacologic disruption of MEK/p38 activity ablated both responses. Moreover, PAI-1 knockdown alone effectively inhibited TGF-β1+EGF-dependent cell scattering, indicating a functional role for this SERPIN in the dual-growth factor model of induced motility. Moreover, EGFR signaling blockade or EGFR knockdown attenuated TGF-β1-induced PAI-1 expression, implicating EGFR transactivation in TGF-β1-stimulated PAI-1 expression, and reduced colony dispersal in TGF-β1+EGF-treated cultures. Identification of such cooperative signaling networks and their effect on specific invasion-promoting target genes, such as PAI-1, may lead to the development of pathway-specific therapeutics that affect late-stage events in human tumor progression.
Scurfy mice have a deletion in the Foxp3 gene, resulting in a failure to generate Foxp3+ regulatory T cells, and they subsequently develop severe CD4+ T-cell-mediated autoimmune inflammation. Multiple organs are involved, but the skin is one of the main organs affected. During the course of disease, Scurfy mice develop autoantibodies; however, the targeted antigens are unknown. In this study, we show that Scurfy mice develop autoantibodies directed against skin antigens. Using western blot analysis, we found that Scurfy serum reacted with proteins in total skin lysate, as well as in a keratinocyte lysate. Most of the Scurfy sera tested identified a major band at 50 kDa. Transfer of Scurfy CD4+ T cells into nu/nu mice yielded autoantibodies with similar reactivity. Further analysis using 2D western blots, followed by peptide mass fingerprinting, identified several keratins as targets. To confirm this observation, we chose one of the identified targets, keratin 14, and prepared recombinant proteins encompassing the N-terminal, middle, and C-terminal portions of the keratin 14 protein. Scurfy serum predominantly recognized the C-terminal fragment. Sera from patients with immunodysregulation, polyendocrinopathy, enteropathy, X-linked (IPEX) syndrome, the human disease resulting from FOXP3 mutations, also recognized skin antigens, including keratin 14. Thus, the results of our study indicate that autoantibodies in Scurfy mice and patients with IPEX target keratins.
Metastatic melanoma has historically been considered as one of the most therapeutically challenging malignancies. However, for the first time after decades of basic research and clinical investigation, new drugs have produced major clinical responses. The discovery of BRAF mutations in melanoma created the first opportunity to develop oncogene-directed therapy in this disease and led to the development of compounds that inhibit aberrant BRAF activity. A decade later, vemurafenib, an orally available and well-tolerated selective BRAF inhibitor, ushered in a new era of molecular treatments for advanced disease. Additional targets have been identified, and novel agents that impact on various signaling pathways or modulate the immune system hold the promise of a whole new therapeutic landscape for patients with metastatic melanoma. One of the major thrusts in melanoma therapy is now focused on understanding and targeting the network of signal transduction pathways and on attacking elements that underlie the tumor’s propensity for growth and chemoresistance. In this article, we review the novel targeted anticancer approaches that are under consideration in melanoma treatment.
Epidermal keratinocytes are particularly suitable candidates for in situ gene correction. Intraperitoneal administration of a triplex-forming oligonucleotide (TFO) was shown previously to introduce DNA base changes in a reporter gene in skin, without identifying which cells had been targeted. We extend those previous experiments using two triplex-forming molecules (TFMs), a peptide nucleic acid (PNA-Antp) and a TFO (AG30), and two lines of transgenic mice that have the chromosomally integrated λsupFG1 shuttle-reporter transgene. Successful in vivo genomic modification occurs in epidermis and dermis in CD1 transgenic mice following either intraperitoneal or intradermal delivery of the PNA-Antennapedia conjugate. FITC-PNA-Antp accumulates in nuclei of keratinocytes and, after intradermal delivery of the PNA-Antp, chromosomally modified, keratin 5 positive basal keratinocytes persist for at least 10 days. In hairless (SKH1) mice with the λsupFG1 transgene, intradermal delivery of the TFO, AG30, introduces gene modifications in both tail and back skin and those chromosomal modifications persist in basal keratinocytes for 10 days. Hairless mice should facilitate comparison of various targeting agents and methods of delivery. Gene targeting by repeated local administration of oligonucleotides may prove clinically useful for judiciously selected disease-causing genes in the epidermis.
The stratum corneum is composed of protein-enriched corneocytes embedded in an intercellular matrix of nonpolar lipids organized as lamellar layers and give rise to epidermal permeability barrier (EPB). EPB defects play an important role in the pathophysiology of skin diseases such as eczema. The transcriptional control of skin lipid metabolism is poorly understood. We have discovered that mouse lacking a transcription factor COUP-TF interacting protein 2 (Ctip2) exhibit EPB defects including altered keratinocyte terminal differentiation, delayed skin barrier development and interrupted neutral lipid distribution in the epidermis. We adapted herein a targeted lipidomic approach using mass spectrometry, and have determined that Ctip2−/− mice (germline deletion of Ctip2 gene) display altered composition of major epidermal lipids such as ceramides and sphingomyelins compared to wildtype at different stages of skin development. Interestingly, expressions of several genes involved in skin sphingolipid biosynthesis and metabolism were altered in mutant skin. Ctip2 was found to be recruited to the promoter region of a subset of those genes, suggesting their possible direct regulation by Ctip2. Our results confirm an important role of Ctip2 in regulating skin lipid metabolism and indicate that profiling of epidermal sphingolipid could be useful for designing effective strategies to improve barrier dysfunctions.
Bcl11b; epidermis; epidermal permeability barrier (EPB); ceramide; sphingomyelin; sphingosine; sphinganine; ceramide synthases; gene expression; de novo pathway; salvage pathway; sphingomyelin pathway; LC-tandem mass spectrometry; ultra high pressure liquid chromatography
The dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) provides strength and resiliency to skin. The ECM consists mostly of type I collagen fibrils, which are produced by fibroblasts. Binding of fibroblasts to collagen fibrils generates mechanical forces, which regulate cellular morphology and function. With aging, collagen fragmentation reduces fibroblast-ECM binding and mechanical forces, resulting in fibroblast shrinkage and reduced function including collagen production. Here, we report that these age-related alterations are largely reversed by enhancing structural support of the ECM. Injection of dermal filler, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, into the skin of persons over seventy years-old stimulates fibroblasts to produce type I collagen. This stimulation is associated with localized increased of mechanical forces, indicated by fibroblast elongation/spreading, and mediated by up-regulation of type II TGF-β receptor and connective tissue growth factor. Interestingly, enhanced mechanical support of the ECM also stimulates fibroblast proliferation, expands vasculature, and increases epidermal thickness. Consistent with our observations in human skin, injection of filler into dermal equivalent cultures causes elongation of fibroblasts, coupled with type I collagen synthesis, which is dependent on the TGF-β signaling pathway. Thus, fibroblasts in aged human skin retain their capacity for functional activation, which is restored by enhancing structural support of the ECM.