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Am J Pathol. 2004 Mar;164(3):1099-114.

Morpho-regulation of ectodermal organs: integument pathology and phenotypic variations in K14-Noggin engineered mice through modulation of bone morphogenic protein pathway.

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Department of Pathology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Ectodermal organs are composed of keratinocytes organized in different ways during induction, morphogenesis, differentiation, and regenerative stages. We hypothesize that an imbalance of fundamental signaling pathways should affect multiple ectodermal organs in a spatio-temporal-dependent manner. We produced a K14-Noggin transgenic mouse to modulate bone morphogenic protein (BMP) activity and test the extent of this hypothesis. We observed thickened skin epidermis, increased hair density, altered hair types, faster anagen re-entry, and formation of compound vibrissa follicles. The eyelid opening was smaller and ectopic cilia formed at the expense of Meibomian glands. In the distal limb, there were agenesis and hyperpigmentation of claws, interdigital webbing, reduced footpads, and trans-differentiation of sweat glands into hairs. The size of external genitalia increased in both sexes, but they remained fertile. We conclude that modulation of BMP activity can affect the number of ectodermal organs by acting during induction stages, influence the size and shape by acting during morphogenesis stages, change phenotypes by acting during differentiation stages, and facilitate new growth by acting during regeneration stages. Therefore during organogenesis, BMP antagonists can produce a spectrum of phenotypes in a stage-dependent manner by adjusting the level of BMP activity. The distinction between phenotypic variations and pathological changes is discussed.

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