Keratins 6a and b (K6a, K6b) belong to a subset of keratin genes with constitutive expression in epithelial appendages, and inducible expression in additional epithelia, when subjected to environmental challenges or disease. Mutations in K6a or K6b cause a broad spectrum of epithelial lesions that differentially affect nail, hair, and glands in humans. Some lesions reflect a loss of the structural support function shared by K6, other keratins, and intermediate filament proteins. The formation of sebaceous glandderived epithelial cysts does not fit this paradigm, raising the question of the unique functions of different K6 isoforms in this setting. Here, we exploit a mouse model of constitutively expressed Gli2, a Hedgehog (Hh) signal effector, to show that K6a expression correlates with duct fate in sebaceous glands (SGs). Whether in the setting of Gli2 transgenic mice skin, which develops a prominent SG duct and additional pairs of highly branched SGs, or in wild-type mouse skin, K6a expression consistently coincides with Hh signaling in ductal tissue. Gli2 expression modestly transactivates a K6a promoter-driven reporter in heterologous systems. Our findings thus identify K6 as a marker of duct fate in SGs, partly in response to Hh signaling, with implications for the pathological expansion of SGs that arises in the context of certain keratin-based diseases and related disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine