The Journal of biological chemistry

Heparan sulfate regulates hair follicle and sebaceous gland morphogenesis and homeostasis.

PMID 25053416


Hair follicle (HF) morphogenesis and cycling are a result of intricate autonomous epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. Once the first HF cycle is complete it repeatedly undergoes cyclic transformations. Heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycans are found on the cell surface and in the extracellular matrix where they influence a variety of biological processes by interacting with physiologically important proteins, such as growth factors. Inhibition of heparanase (an HS endoglycosidase) in in vitro cultured HFs has been shown to induce a catagen-like process. Therefore, this study aimed to elucidate the precise role of HS in HF morphogenesis and cycling. An inducible tetratransgenic mouse model was generated to excise exostosin glycosyltransferase 1 (Ext1) in keratin 14-positive cells from P21. Interestingly, EXT1(StEpiΔ/StEpiΔ) mice presented solely anagen HFs. Moreover, waxing the fur to synchronize the HFs revealed accelerated hair regrowth in the EXT1(StEpiΔ/StEpiΔ) mice and hindered cycling into catagen. The ablation of HS in the interfollicular epidermal cells of mature skin led to the spontaneous formation of new HFs and an increase in Sonic Hedgehog expression resembling wild-type mice at P0, thereby indicating that the HS/Sonic Hedgehog signaling pathway regulates HF formation during embryogenesis and prevents HF formation in mature skin. Finally, the knock-out of HS also led to the morphogenesis and hyperplasia of sebaceous glands and sweat glands in mature mice, leading to exacerbated sebum production and accumulation on the skin surface. Therefore, our findings clearly show that an intricate control of HS levels is required for HF, sebaceous gland, and sweat gland morphogenesis and HF cycling.