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Dev Biol. 1999 Aug 15;212(2):278-89.

The TGF-beta2 isoform is both a required and sufficient inducer of murine hair follicle morphogenesis.

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Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachussetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts, 02129, USA.


Hair follicle development serves as an excellent model to study control of organ morphogenesis. Three specific isoforms of TGF-beta exist which exhibit a distinct pattern of expression during hair follicle morphogenesis. To clarify the still elusive role of these factors in hair follicle development, we have used a combined genetic and functional approach: analysis of hair follicle development in mice with disruptions of the TGF-beta1, 2, and 3 genes was coupled with a direct functional test of the effect of added purified factors on fetal hair follicle development in skin organ cultures. TGF-beta2 null mice exhibited a profound delay of hair follicle morphogenesis, with a 50% reduced number of hair follicles. In contrast to hair follicle development, growth and differentiation of interfollicular keratinocytes proceeded unimpaired. Unlike TGF-beta2-/- mice, mice with a disruption of the TGF-beta1 gene showed slightly advanced hair follicle formation, while lack of the TGF-beta3 gene did not have any effects. Treatment of wild-type, embryonic skin explants (E14.5 or E15.5) with TGF-beta2 protein in either soluble form or slow release beads induced hair follicle development and epidermal hyperplasia, while similar TGF-beta1 treatment exerted suppressive effects. Thus, the TGF-beta2 isoform plays a specific role, not shared by the other TGF-beta isoforms, as an inducer of hair follicle morphogenesis and is both required and sufficient to promote this process.

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