Regulation of Hsp27 and Hsp70 expression in human and mouse skin construct models by caveolae following exposure to the model sulfur mustard vesicant, 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2011 Jun 1;253(2):112-20. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2011.03.015. Epub 2011 Mar 30.


Dermal exposure to the vesicant sulfur mustard causes marked inflammation and tissue damage. Basal keratinocytes appear to be a major target of sulfur mustard. In the present studies, mechanisms mediating skin toxicity were examined using a mouse skin construct model and a full-thickness human skin equivalent (EpiDerm-FT™). In both systems, administration of the model sulfur mustard vesicant, 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide (CEES, 100-1000μM) at the air surface induced mRNA and protein expression of heat shock proteins 27 and 70 (Hsp27 and Hsp70). CEES treatment also resulted in increased expression of caveolin-1, the major structural component of caveolae. Immunohistochemistry revealed that Hsp27, Hsp70 and caveolin-1 were localized in basal and suprabasal layers of the epidermis. Caveolin-1 was also detected in fibroblasts in the dermal component of the full thickness human skin equivalent. Western blot analysis of caveolar membrane fractions isolated by sucrose density centrifugation demonstrated that Hsp27 and Hsp70 were localized in caveolae. Treatment of mouse keratinocytes with filipin III or methyl-β-cyclodextrin, which disrupt caveolar structure, markedly suppressed CEES-induced Hsp27 and Hsp70 mRNA and protein expression. CEES treatment is known to activate JNK and p38 MAP kinases; in mouse keratinocytes, inhibition of these enzymes suppressed CEES-induced expression of Hsp27 and Hsp70. These data suggest that MAP kinases regulate Hsp 27 and Hsp70; moreover, caveolae-mediated regulation of heat shock protein expression may be important in the pathophysiology of vesicant-induced skin toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caveolae / physiology*
  • Caveolin 1 / analysis
  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins / analysis*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / analysis*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Mice
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Mustard Gas / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mustard Gas / toxicity
  • Skin / chemistry
  • Skin / drug effects*


  • Caveolin 1
  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSPB1 protein, human
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Hspb2 protein, mouse
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide
  • Mustard Gas