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J Invest Dermatol. 1997 Dec;109(6):783-7.

Permeability barrier disruption coordinately regulates mRNA levels for key enzymes of cholesterol, fatty acid, and ceramide synthesis in the epidermis.

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  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco 94121, USA.


The extracellular lipids of the stratum corneum, which are comprised mainly of cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides, are essential for epidermal permeability barrier function. Moreover, disruption of the permeability barrier results in an increased cholesterol, fatty acid, and ceramide synthesis in the underlying epidermis. This increase in lipid synthesis has been shown previously to be due to increased activities of HMG-CoA reductase, acetyl-CoA carboxylase, fatty acid synthase and serine palmitoyl transferase, key enzymes of cholesterol, fatty acid, and ceramide synthesis, respectively. In the present study, we determined whether the mRNA levels for the key enzymes required for synthesis of these three classes of lipids increase coordinately during barrier recovery. By northern blotting, the steady-state mRNA levels for HMG-CoA reductase, HMG-CoA synthase, farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase, and squalene synthase, key enzymes for cholesterol synthesis, all increased significantly after barrier disruption by either acetone or tape stripping. Additionally, the steady-state mRNA levels of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthase, required for fatty acid synthesis, as well as serine palmitoyl transferase, the rate-limiting enzyme of de novo ceramide synthesis, also increased. Furthermore, artificial restoration of the permeability barrier by occlusion after barrier disruption prevented the increase in mRNA levels for all of these enzymes, except farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase, indicating a specific link of the increase in mRNA levels to barrier requirements. The parallel increase in epidermal mRNA levels for the enzymes required for cholesterol, fatty acid, and ceramide synthesis may be due to one or more transcription factors that regulate lipid requirements for permeability barrier function in keratinocytes.

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