Systematic investigation of the skin in Chst14-/- mice: A model for skin fragility in musculocontractural Ehlers-Danlos syndrome caused by CHST14 variants (mcEDS-CHST14)

Glycobiology. 2021 Feb 9;31(2):137-150. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwaa058.


Loss-of-function variants in CHST14 cause a dermatan 4-O-sulfotransferase deficiency named musculocontractural Ehlers-Danlos syndrome-CHST14 (mcEDS-CHST14), resulting in complete depletion of the dermatan sulfate moiety of decorin glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains, which is replaced by chondroitin sulfate. Recently, we uncovered structural alteration of GAG chains in the skin of patients with mcEDS-CHST14. Here, we conducted the first systematic investigation of Chst14 gene-deleted homozygote (Chst14-/-) mice. We used skin samples of wild-type (Chst14+/+) and Chst14-/- mice. Mechanical fragility of the skin was measured with a tensile test. Pathology was observed using light microscopy, decorin immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy (EM) including cupromeronic blue (CB) staining. Quantification of chondroitin sulfate and dermatan sulfate was performed using enzymatic digestion followed by anion-exchange HPLC. In Chst14-/- mice, skin tensile strength was significantly decreased compared with that in Chst14+/+ mice. EM showed that collagen fibrils were oriented in various directions to form disorganized collagen fibers in the reticular layer. Through EM-based CB staining, rod-shaped linear GAG chains were found to be attached at one end to collagen fibrils and protruded outside of the fibrils, in contrast to them being round and wrapping the collagen fibrils in Chst14+/+ mice. A very low level of dermatan sulfate disaccharides was detected in the skin of Chst14-/- mice by anion-exchange chromatography. Chst14-/- mice, exhibiting similar abnormalities in the GAG structure of decorin and collagen networks in the skin, could be a reasonable model for skin fragility of patients with mcEDS-CHST14, shedding light on the role of dermatan sulfate in maintaining skin strength.

Keywords: Chst14−/− mice; chondroitin sulfate; dermatan sulfate; musculocontractural Ehlers–Danlos syndrome; skin fragility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / genetics*
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Sulfotransferases / deficiency
  • Sulfotransferases / genetics*
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism


  • Sulfotransferases
  • dermatan-4-sulfotransferase-1