• Essential Role of the Keratinocyte-Specific Endonuclease DNase1L2 in the Removal of Nuclear DNA from Hair and Nails.

      Fischer, H.; Szabo, S.; Scherz, J.; Jaeger, K.; Rossiter, H.; Buchberger, M.; Ghannadan, M.; Hermann, M.; Theussl, H-C.; Tobin, Desmond J.; et al. (2011-06)
      Degradation of nuclear DNA is a hallmark of programmed cell death. Epidermal keratinocytes die in the course of cornification to function as the dead building blocks of the cornified layer of the epidermis, nails, and hair. Here, we investigated the mechanism and physiological function of DNA degradation during cornification in vivo. Targeted deletion of the keratinocyte-specific endonuclease DNase1-like 2 (DNase1L2) in the mouse resulted in the aberrant retention of DNA in hair and nails, as well as in epithelia of the tongue and the esophagus. In contrast to our previous studies in human keratinocytes, ablation of DNase1L2 did not compromise the cornified layer of the epidermis. Quantitative PCRs showed that the amount of nuclear DNA was dramatically increased in both hair and nails, and that mitochondrial DNA was increased in the nails of DNase1L2-deficient mice. The presence of nuclear DNA disturbed the normal arrangement of structural proteins in hair corneocytes and caused a significant decrease in the resistance of hair to mechanical stress. These data identify DNase1L2 as an essential and specific regulator of programmed cell death in skin appendages, and demonstrate that the breakdown of nuclear DNA is crucial for establishing the full mechanical stability of hair.
    • Suppression of Autophagy Dysregulates the Antioxidant Response and Causes Premature Senescence of Melanocytes

      Zhang, C.F.; Gruber, F.; Mildner, M.; Koenig, U.; Karner, S.; Barresi, C.; Rossiter, H.; Narzt, M.S.; Nagelreiter, I.M.; Larue, L.; et al. (2015-05)
      Autophagy is the central cellular mechanism for delivering organelles and cytoplasm to lysosomes for degradation and recycling of their molecular components. To determine the contribution of autophagy to melanocyte (MC) biology, we inactivated the essential autophagy gene Atg7 specifically in MCs using the Cre-loxP system. This gene deletion efficiently suppressed a key step in autophagy, lipidation of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta (LC3), in MCs and induced slight hypopigmentation of the epidermis in mice. The melanin content of hair was decreased by 10–15% in mice with autophagy-deficient MC as compared with control animals. When cultured in vitro, MCs from mutant and control mice produced equal amounts of melanin per cell. However, Atg7-deficient MCs entered into premature growth arrest and accumulated reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage, ubiquitinated proteins, and the multi-functional adapter protein SQSTM1/p62. Moreover, nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2)–dependent expression of NAD(P)H dehydrogenase, quinone 1, and glutathione S-transferase Mu 1 was increased, indicating a contribution of autophagy to redox homeostasis in MCs. In summary, the results of our study suggest that Atg7-dependent autophagy is dispensable for melanogenesis but necessary for achieving the full proliferative capacity of MCs.