[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) is responsible for the synthesis of myelin galactolipids containing hydroxy fatty acid (hFA) as the N-acyl chain. Mutations in the FA2H gene cause leukodystrophy, spastic paraplegia, and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. Using the Cre-lox system, we developed two types of mouse mutants, Fa2h(-/-) mice (Fa2h deleted in all cells by germline deletion) and Fa2h(flox/flox) Cnp1-Cre mice (Fa2h deleted only in oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells). We found significant demyelination, profound axonal loss, and abnormally enlarged axons in the CNS of Fa2h(-/-) mice at 12 months of age, while structure and function of peripheral nerves were largely unaffected. Fa2h(-/-) mice also exhibited histological and functional disruption in the cerebellum at 12 months of age. In a time course study, significant deterioration of cerebellar function was first detected at 7 months of age. Further behavioral assessments in water T-maze and Morris water maze tasks revealed significant deficits in spatial learning and memory at 4 months of age. These data suggest that various regions of the CNS are functionally compromised in young adult Fa2h(-/-) mice. The cerebellar deficits in 12-month-old Fa2h(flox/flox) Cnp1-Cre mice were indistinguishable from Fa2h(-/-) mice, indicating that these phenotypes likely stem from the lack of myelin hFA-galactolipids. In contrast, Fa2h(flox/flox) Cnp1-Cre mice did not show reduced performance in water maze tasks, indicating that oligodendrocytes are not involved in the learning and memory deficits found in Fa2h(-/-) mice. These findings provide the first evidence that FA2H has an important function outside of oligodendrocytes in the CNS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among the Hox genes, homeobox C13 (Hoxc13) has been shown to be essential for proper hair shaft differentiation, as Hoxc13 gene-targeted (Hoxc13(tm1Mrc)) mice completely lack external hair. Because of the remarkable overt phenotypic parallels to the Foxn1(nu) (nude) mutant mice, we sought to determine whether Hoxc13 and forkhead box N1 (Foxn1) might act in a common pathway of hair follicle (HF) differentiation. We show that the alopecia exhibited by both the Hoxc13(tm1Mrc) and Foxn1(nu) mice is because of strikingly similar defects in hair shaft differentiation and that both mutants suffer from a severe nail dystrophy. These phenotypic similarities are consistent with the extensive overlap between Hoxc13 and Foxn1 expression patterns in the HF and the nail matrix. Furthermore, DNA microarray analysis of skin from Hoxc13(tm1Mrc) mice identified Foxn1 as significantly downregulated along with numerous hair keratin genes. This Foxn1 downregulation apparently reflects the loss of direct transcriptional control by HOXC13 as indicated by our results obtained through co-transfection and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. As presented in the discussion, these data support a regulatory model of keratinocyte differentiation in which HOXC13-dependent activation of Foxn1 is part of a regulatory cascade controlling the expression of terminal differentiation markers.