Primary human keratinocytes are useful for studying the pathogenesis of many different diseases of the cutaneous and mucosal epithelia. In addition, they can form organotypic tissue equivalents in culture that can be used as epidermal autografts for wound repair as well as for the delivery of gene therapy. However, primary keratinocytes have a finite lifespan in culture that limits their proliferative capacity and clinical use. Here, we report that treatment of primary keratinocytes (originating from 3 different anatomical sites) with Y-27632, a Rho kinase inhibitor, greatly increased their proliferative capacity and resulted in efficient immortalization without detectable cell crisis. More importantly, the immortalized cells displayed characteristics typical of primary keratinocytes; they had a normal karyotype and an intact DNA damage response and were able to differentiate into a stratified epithelium. This is the first example to our knowledge of a defined chemical compound mediating efficient cell immortalization, and this finding could have wide-ranging and profound investigational and medical applications.
Sandra Chapman, Xuefeng Liu, Craig Meyers, Richard Schlegel, Alison A. McBride
Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of skin and soft tissue infections, and rapidly emerging antibiotic-resistant strains are creating a serious public health concern. If immune-based therapies are to be an alternative to antibiotics, greater understanding is needed of the protective immune response against S. aureus infection in the skin. Although neutrophil recruitment is required for immunity against S. aureus, a role for T cells has been suggested. Here, we used a mouse model of S. aureus cutaneous infection to investigate the contribution of T cells to host defense. We found that mice deficient in γδ but not αβ T cells had substantially larger skin lesions with higher bacterial counts and impaired neutrophil recruitment compared with WT mice. This neutrophil recruitment was dependent upon epidermal Vγ5+ γδ T cell production of IL-17, but not IL-21 and IL-22. Furthermore, IL-17 induction required IL-1, TLR2, and IL-23 and was critical for host defense, since IL-17R–deficient mice had a phenotype similar to that of γδ T cell–deficient mice. Importantly, γδ T cell–deficient mice inoculated with S. aureus and treated with a single dose of recombinant IL-17 had lesion sizes and bacterial counts resembling those of WT mice, demonstrating that IL-17 could restore the impaired immunity in these mice. Our study defines what we believe to be a novel role for IL-17–producing epidermal γδ T cells in innate immunity against S. aureus cutaneous infection.
John S. Cho, Eric M. Pietras, Nairy C. Garcia, Romela Irene Ramos, David M. Farzam, Holly R. Monroe, Julie E. Magorien, Andrew Blauvelt, Jay K. Kolls, Ambrose L. Cheung, Genhong Cheng, Robert L. Modlin, Lloyd S. Miller
The human epidermis serves 2 crucial barrier functions: it protects against water loss and prevents penetration of infectious agents and allergens. The physiology of the epidermis is maintained by a balance of protease and antiprotease activities, as illustrated by the rare genetic skin disease Netherton syndrome (NS), in which impaired inhibition of serine proteases causes severe skin erythema and scaling. Here, utilizing mass spectrometry, we have identified elastase 2 (ELA2), which we believe to be a new epidermal protease that is specifically expressed in the most differentiated layer of living human and mouse epidermis. ELA2 localized to keratohyalin granules, where it was found to directly participate in (pro-)filaggrin processing. Consistent with the observation that ELA2 was hyperactive in skin from NS patients, transgenic mice overexpressing ELA2 in the granular layer of the epidermis displayed abnormal (pro-)filaggrin processing and impaired lipid lamellae structure, which are both observed in NS patients. These anomalies led to dehydration, implicating ELA2 in the skin barrier defect seen in NS patients. Thus, our work identifies ELA2 as a major new epidermal protease involved in essential pathways for skin barrier function. These results highlight the importance of the control of epidermal protease activity in skin homeostasis and designate ELA2 as a major protease driving the pathogenesis of NS.
Chrystelle Bonnart, Céline Deraison, Matthieu Lacroix, Yoshikazu Uchida, Céline Besson, Aurélie Robin, Anaïs Briot, Marie Gonthier, Laurence Lamant, Pierre Dubus, Bernard Monsarrat, Alain Hovnanian
Anna Mandinova, Vihren Kolev, Victor Neel, Bing Hu, Wesley Stonely, Jocelyn Lieb, Xunwei Wu, Claudia Colli, Rong Han, Michael J. Pazin, Paola Ostano, Reinhard Dummer, Janice L. Brissette, G. Paolo Dotto
The Rho family GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1 are critical regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and are essential for skin and hair function. Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome family proteins act downstream of these GTPases, controlling actin assembly and cytoskeletal reorganization, but their role in epithelial cells has not been characterized in vivo. Here, we used a conditional knockout approach to assess the role of neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP), the ubiquitously expressed Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome–like (WASL) protein, in mouse skin. We found that N-WASP deficiency in mouse skin led to severe alopecia, epidermal hyperproliferation, and ulceration, without obvious effects on epidermal differentiation and wound healing. Further analysis revealed that the observed alopecia was likely the result of a progressive and ultimately nearly complete block in hair follicle (HF) cycling by 5 months of age. N-WASP deficiency also led to abnormal proliferation of skin progenitor cells, resulting in their depletion over time. Furthermore, N-WASP deficiency in vitro and in vivo correlated with decreased GSK-3β phosphorylation, decreased nuclear localization of β-catenin in follicular keratinocytes, and decreased Wnt-dependent transcription. Our results indicate a critical role for N-WASP in skin function and HF cycling and identify a link between N-WASP and Wnt signaling. We therefore propose that N-WASP acts as a positive regulator of β-catenin–dependent transcription, modulating differentiation of HF progenitor cells.
Anna Lyubimova, John J. Garber, Geeta Upadhyay, Andrey Sharov, Florentina Anastasoaie, Vijay Yajnik, George Cotsarelis, Gian Paolo Dotto, Vladimir Botchkarev, Scott B. Snapper
Cutaneous wounds heal more slowly in elderly males than in elderly females, suggesting a role for sex hormones in the healing process. Indeed, androgen/androgen receptor (AR) signaling has been shown to inhibit cutaneous wound healing. AR is expressed in several cell types in healing skin, including keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts, and infiltrating macrophages, but the exact role of androgen/AR signaling in these different cell types remains unclear. To address this question, we generated and studied cutaneous wound healing in cell-specific AR knockout (ARKO) mice. General and myeloid-specific ARKO mice exhibited accelerated wound healing compared with WT mice, whereas keratinocyte- and fibroblast-specific ARKO mice did not. Importantly, the rate of wound healing in the general ARKO mice was dependent on AR and not serum androgen levels. Interestingly, although dispensable for wound closure, keratinocyte AR promoted re-epithelialization, while fibroblast AR suppressed it. Further analysis indicated that AR suppressed wound healing by enhancing the inflammatory response through a localized increase in TNF-α expression. Furthermore, AR enhanced local TNF-α expression via multiple mechanisms, including increasing the inflammatory monocyte population, enhancing monocyte chemotaxis by upregulating CCR2 expression, and enhancing TNF-α expression in macrophages. Finally, targeting AR by topical application of a compound (ASC-J9) that degrades AR protein resulted in accelerated healing, suggesting a potential new therapeutic approach that may lead to better treatment of wound healing.
Jiann-Jyh Lai, Kuo-Pao Lai, Kuang-Hsiang Chuang, Philip Chang, I-Chen Yu, Wen-Jye Lin, Chawnshang Chang
Seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are common, benign epithelial tumors of the skin that do not, or very rarely, progress into malignancy, for reasons that are not understood. We investigated this by gene expression profiling of human SKs and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and found that several genes previously connected with keratinocyte tumor development were similarly modulated in SKs and SCCs, whereas the expression of others differed by only a few fold. In contrast, the tyrosine kinase receptor FGF receptor–3 (FGFR3) and the transcription factor forkhead box N1 (FOXN1) were highly expressed in SKs, and close to undetectable in SCCs. We also showed that increased FGFR3 activity was sufficient to induce FOXN1 expression, counteract the inhibitory effect of EGFR signaling on FOXN1 expression and differentiation, and induce differentiation in a FOXN1-dependent manner. Knockdown of FOXN1 expression in primary human keratinocytes cooperated with oncogenic RAS in the induction of SCC-like tumors, whereas increased FOXN1 expression triggered the SCC cells to shift to a benign SK-like tumor phenotype, which included increased FGFR3 expression. Thus, we have uncovered a positive regulatory loop between FGFR3 and FOXN1 that underlies a benign versus malignant skin tumor phenotype.
Anna Mandinova, Vihren Kolev, Victor Neel, Bing Hu, Wesley Stonely, Jocelyn Lieb, Xunwei Wu, Claudia Colli, Rong Han, Mike Pazin, Paola Ostano, Reinhard Dummer, Janice L. Brissette, G. Paolo Dotto
The cellular and molecular microenvironment of epithelial stem and progenitor cells is poorly characterized despite well-documented roles in homeostatic tissue renewal, wound healing, and cancer progression. Here, we demonstrate that, in organotypic cocultures, dermal pericytes substantially enhanced the intrinsically low tissue-regenerative capacity of human epidermal cells that have committed to differentiate and that this enhancement was independent of angiogenesis. We used microarray analysis to identify genes expressed by human dermal pericytes that could potentially promote epidermal regeneration. Using this approach, we identified as a candidate the gene LAMA5, which encodes laminin α5, a subunit of the ECM component laminin-511/521 (LM-511/521). LAMA5 was of particular interest as we had previously shown that it promotes skin regeneration both in vitro and in vivo. Analysis using immunogold localization revealed that pericytes synthesized and secreted LAMA5 in human skin. Consistent with this observation, coculture with pericytes enhanced LM-511/521 deposition in the dermal-epidermal junction of organotypic cultures. We further showed that skin pericytes could also act as mesenchymal stem cells, exhibiting the capacity to differentiate into bone, fat, and cartilage lineages in vitro. This study suggests that pericytes represent a potent stem cell population in the skin that is capable of modifying the ECM microenvironment and promoting epidermal tissue renewal from non-stem cells, a previously unsuspected role for pericytes.
Sophie Paquet-Fifield, Holger Schlüter, Amy Li, Tara Aitken, Pradnya Gangatirkar, Daniel Blashki, Rachel Koelmeyer, Normand Pouliot, Manuela Palatsides, Sarah Ellis, Nathalie Brouard, Andrew Zannettino, Nick Saunders, Natalie Thompson, Jason Li, Pritinder Kaur
Hemangiomas are the most common type of tumor in infants. As they are endothelial cell–derived neoplasias, their growth can be regulated by the autocrine-acting Tie2 ligand angiopoietin 2 (Ang2). Using an experimental model of human hemangiomas, in which polyoma middle T–transformed brain endothelial (bEnd) cells are grafted subcutaneously into nude mice, we compared hemangioma growth originating from bEnd cells derived from wild-type, Ang2+/–, and Ang2–/– mice. Surprisingly, Ang2-deficient bEnd cells formed endothelial tumors that grew rapidly and were devoid of the typical cavernous architecture of slow-growing Ang2-expressing hemangiomas, while Ang2+/– cells were greatly impaired in their in vivo growth. Gene array analysis identified a strong downregulation of NADPH oxidase 4 (Nox4) in Ang2+/– cells. Correspondingly, lentiviral silencing of Nox4 in an Ang2-sufficient bEnd cell line decreased Ang2 mRNA levels and greatly impaired hemangioma growth in vivo. Using a structure-based approach, we identified fulvenes as what we believe to be a novel class of Nox inhibitors. We therefore produced and began the initial characterization of fulvenes as potential Nox inhibitors, finding that fulvene-5 efficiently inhibited Nox activity in vitro and potently inhibited hemangioma growth in vivo. In conclusion, the present study establishes Nox4 as a critical regulator of hemangioma growth and identifies fulvenes as a potential class of candidate inhibitor to therapeutically interfere with Nox function.
Sulochana S. Bhandarkar, Marisa Jaconi, Levi E. Fried, Michael Y. Bonner, Benjamin Lefkove, Baskaran Govindarajan, Betsy N. Perry, Ravi Parhar, Jamie Mackelfresh, Allie Sohn, Michael Stouffs, Ulla Knaus, George Yancopoulos, Yvonne Reiss, Andrew V. Benest, Hellmut G. Augustin, Jack L. Arbiser
Psoriasis is a common immune-mediated chronic inflammatory skin disorder, but the mechanisms of pathogenesis are still poorly understood. IL-23 is expressed in psoriatic skin, and IL-23 injection produces IL-22–dependent psoriasiform changes in mouse skin. Th17 cells produce IL-22 and display CCR6, the CCL20 receptor; CCR6+ T cells and CCL20 are abundant in psoriatic skin. We investigated a possible role for CCR6 in recruiting Th17 cells and producing psoriasiform pathology by injecting IL-23 into the skin of WT and Ccr6–/– mice. Unlike for WT mice, IL-23–injected ears of Ccr6–/– mice showed neither substantial epidermal/dermal changes nor increased Il22 mRNA expression. However, injection of IL-22 yielded equivalent psoriasiform changes in WT and Ccr6–/– mice. Surprisingly, IL-23–injected ears of WT and Ccr6–/– mice contained similar numbers of Th cells able to make IL-17A and/or IL-22. Furthermore, in ears of Rag1–/– mice, IL-23 initially induced skin changes and levels of Il22 mRNA that were indistinguishable from WT mice, revealing at least one non–T cell source for IL-22. We conclude that CCR6 is essential in a model of IL-23–induced, IL-22–mediated dermatitis, which develops in sequential T cell–independent and T cell–dependent phases. These findings reveal an expanded role for CCR6 in IL-23–related responses and identify CCR6 as a potential therapeutic target in psoriasis.
Michael N. Hedrick, Anke S. Lonsdorf, Aiko-Konno Shirakawa, Chyi-Chia Richard Lee, Fang Liao, Satya P. Singh, Hongwei H. Zhang, Alexander Grinberg, Paul E. Love, Sam T. Hwang, Joshua M. Farber