Hair follicles are simple, accessible models for many developmental processes. Here, using mutant mice, we show that Bmpr2, a known receptor for bone morphogenetic proteins (Bmps), and Acvr2a, a known receptor for Bmps and activins, are individually redundant but together essential for multiple follicular traits. When Bmpr2/Acvr2a function is reduced in cutaneous epithelium, hair follicles undergo rapid cycles of hair generation and loss. Alopecia results from a failure to terminate hair development properly, as hair clubs never form, and follicular retraction is slowed. Hair regeneration is rapid due to premature activation of new hair-production programs. Hair shafts differentiate aberrantly due to impaired arrest of medullary-cell proliferation. When Bmpr2/Acvr2a function is reduced in melanocytes, gray hair develops, as melanosomes differentiate but fail to grow, resulting in organelle miniaturization. We conclude that Bmpr2 and Acvr2a normally play cell-type-specific, necessary roles in organelle biogenesis and the shutdown of developmental programs and cell division.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.