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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Mar;1841(3):331-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2013.10.009. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

The role of sterol-C4-methyl oxidase in epidermal biology.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.
  • 3Division of Metabolic Disorders, CHOC Children's, Orange, CA, USA.
  • 4Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, PA 19104, USA.
  • 5Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA USA.


Deficiency of sterol C4 methyl oxidase, encoded by the SC4MOL gene, has recently been described in four patients from three different families. All of the patients presented with microcephaly, congenital cataracts, and growth delay in infancy. The first patient has suffered since the age of six years from severe, diffuse, psoriasiform dermatitis, sparing only her palms. She is now 20 years old. The second patient is a 5 year old girl who has just started to develop dry skin and hair changes. The third and fourth patients are a pair of affected siblings with a severe skin condition since infancy. Quantitative sterol analysis of plasma and skin scales from all four patients showed marked elevation of 4α-methyl- and 4, 4'-dimethylsterols, consistent with a deficiency in the first step of sterol C4 demethylation in cholesterol biosynthesis. Mutations in the SC4MOL have been identified in all of the patients. SC4MOL deficiency is the first autosomal recessive disorder identified in the sterol demethylation complex. Cellular studies with patient-derived fibroblasts have shown a higher mitotic rate than control cells in cholesterol-depleted medium, with increased de novo cholesterol biosynthesis and accumulation of methylsterols. Immunologic analyses of granulocytes and B cells from patients and obligate carriers in the patients' families indicated dysregulation of immune-related receptors. Inhibition of sterol C4 methyl oxidase in human transformed lymphoblasts induced activation of the cell cycle. Additional studies also demonstrated diminished EGFR signaling and disrupted vesicular trafficking in cells from the affected patients. These findings suggest that methylsterols play an important role in epidermal biology by their influence on cell proliferation, intracellular signaling, vesicular trafficking and immune response. SC4MOL is situated within the psoriasis susceptibility locus PSORS9, and may be a genetic risk factor for common skin conditions. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.

© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


EGFR; Methylsterol; SC4MOL; Skin

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