• The Role of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 in Epidermal Homeostasis and Hair Growth

      Botchkareva, Natalia V.; Mardaryev, Andrei N.; Asamaowei, Inemo E. (University of BradfordFaculty of Life Sciences, 2017)
      Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) catalyses the methylation of ‘Lys-27’ of histone H3, leading to transcriptional repression of target genes through its catalytic subunit Enhancer of zeste homolog 1/2 (EZH1/2). PRC2 functions as a critical regulator of stem cells in mouse embryonic and adult tissues. However, the role of PRC2 in human skin remains largely unknown. This study investigated the role of PRC2 in human epidermal homeostasis and hair growth. The expression of EZH2 was elevated in differentiating suprabasal layers of the human epidermis. Consistently, EZH1/2 expression and enzymatic activity was upregulated in differentiating primary human keratinocytes (NHEKs) in vitro. Inhibition of EZH2 and Embryonic ectoderm development (EED) in NHEKs stimulated the expression of differentiation-associated genes, therefore leading to their premature differentiation; while inhibition of EZH1/2 reduced cell proliferation and promoted apoptosis. Silencing of EZH2 in NHEKs induced complex changes in gene expression programmes, including the upregulation of terminal differentiation genes, such as Filaggrin. EZH2 expression was downregulated in aged keratinocytes accompanied with upregulation of senescence-associated genes, p16INK4A and p19INK4D, suggesting EZH2 involvement in epidermal aging. In human anagen hair follicle (HF), EZH2 was detected in stem and progenitor cells; and hair matrix keratinocytes. Silencing EZH2 in HFs accelerated anagen-catagen transition and retarded hair growth accompanied by decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis. Silencing EZH2 in outer root sheath keratinocytes resulted in upregulation of p14ARF and K15, suggesting EZH2 involvement in regulating proliferation and stem cell activity. Thus, this study demonstrates that PRC2-mediated repression is crucial for epidermal homeostasis and hair growth. Modulating the activities of PRC2 in skin might offer a new therapeutic approach for disorders of epidermal differentiation and hair growth.