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Am J Pathol. 2007 Sep;171(3):846-60. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Targeted skin overexpression of the mineralocorticoid receptor in mice causes epidermal atrophy, premature skin barrier formation, eye abnormalities, and alopecia.

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  • 1INSERM U772, Collège de France, Université Paris-Descartes, Paris, France.


The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is a transcription factor of the nuclear receptor family, activation of which by aldosterone enhances salt reabsorption in the kidney. The MR is also expressed in nonclassical aldosterone target cells (brain, heart, and skin), in which its functions are incompletely understood. To explore the functional importance of MR in mammalian skin, we have generated a conditional doxycycline-inducible model of MR overexpression, resulting in double-transgenic (DT) mice [keratin 5-tTa/tetO-human MR (hMR)], targeting the human MR specifically to keratinocytes of the epidermis and hair follicle (HF). Expression of hMR throughout gestation resulted in early postnatal death that could be prevented by antagonizing MR signaling. DT mice exhibited premature epidermal barrier formation at embryonic day 16.5, reduced HF density and epidermal atrophy, increased keratinocyte apoptosis at embryonic day 18.5, and premature eye opening. When hMR expression was initiated after birth to overcome mortality, DT mice developed progressive alopecia and HF cysts, starting 4 months after hMR induction, preceded by dystrophy and cycling abnormalities of pelage HF. In contrast, interfollicular epidermis, vibrissae, and footpad sweat glands in DT mice were normal. This new mouse model reveals novel biological roles of MR signaling and offers an instructive tool for dissecting nonclassical functions of MR signaling in epidermal, hair follicle, and ocular physiology.

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