Normal ultrastructure, but altered stratum corneum lipid and protein composition in a mouse model for epidermolytic hyperkeratosis

J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Sep;113(3):329-34. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1999.00702.x.


Recently, we established keratin 10-deficient mice, serving as a model for the hyperkeratotic skin disorder epidermolytic hyperkeratosis. The considerable ichthyosis in these mice suggested alterations in terminal differentiation and in the formation of a functional epidermal barrier. Here, we report on the ultrastructural organization and composition of the stratum corneum lipids and on the expression of two major cornified envelope proteins. Electron microscopy of ruthenium tetroxide postfixed skin samples demonstrated a normal extrusion and morphology of lamellar bodies as well as the formation of bona fide lamellar layers in neonatal keratin 10-deficient mice. When we studied the composition of the major stratum corneum lipids, however, we found significant changes. Most importantly, the analysis of ceramide subpopulations revealed that the total amount of ceramide 2 was elevated in keratin 10-deficient mice, whereas ceramides 1, 3, 4, and 5 were decreased among total stratum corneum lipids. The amount of the ceramide precursors sphingomyelin and glucosylceramide was reduced in the stratum corneum without accompanying changes in the mRNA coding for acid sphingomyelinase. Notably, we found an increased mRNA and protein content for involucrin in neonatal keratin 10-deficient mice, whereas the expression of loricrin was not changed. Our data demonstrate that, although the formation of lipid layers in the stratum corneum appeared to be normal, its lipid composition is significantly altered in keratin 10-deficient mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ceramides / analysis
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epidermis / chemistry
  • Epidermis / ultrastructure*
  • Hyperkeratosis, Epidermolytic / metabolism
  • Hyperkeratosis, Epidermolytic / pathology*
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Proteins / analysis*


  • Ceramides
  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Keratins