Research ArticleDevelopment

Mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species Promote Epidermal Differentiation and Hair Follicle Development

Sci. Signal.  05 Feb 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 261, pp. ra8
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003638

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Building a Barrier

Mitochondria are an important source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which participate in diverse signaling pathways. To test the role of mitochondrially produced ROS in epidermal development, Hamanaka et al. generated mice with keratinocytes lacking mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM), which is required for transcription of genes encoded by mitochondrial DNA, including those that proteins required for ROS generation. The epidermis of these mice was abnormally thick, lacked hair, and showed defects in differentiation and barrier function, which likely contributed to perinatal death. Keratinocytes from these mice did not produce mitochondrial ROS and showed impaired Notch signaling, which is involved in epidermal differentiation, and β-catenin signaling, which is required for growth of hair follicles. Thus, signaling pathways involved in skin development rely on the production of ROS generated by mitochondria.