Loss of the epigenetic mark 5-hmC in psoriasis: Implications for epidermal stem cell dysregulation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Investigative Dermatology




School of Medical and Health Sciences




Li, F., Yuan, C. W., Xu, S., Zu, T., Woappi, Y., Lee, C. A., ... & Wu, X. (2020). Loss of the epigenetic mark 5-hmC in psoriasis: implications for epidermal stem cell dysregulation. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 140(6), 1266-1275.



Epigenetic regulation has a profound influence on stem cell fate during normal development in maintenance of physiologic tissue homeostasis. Here we report diminished ten-eleven translocation (TET) methylcytosine dioxygenase expression and loss of the DNA hydroxymethylation mark 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) in keratinocyte stem cells and transit amplifying cells in human psoriasis and in imiquimod-induced murine psoriasis. Loss of 5-hmC was associated with dysregulated keratinocyte stem cell kinetics, resulting in accumulation of nestin and FABP5-expressing transit amplifying cells to produce classic psoriatic epidermal architecture. Moreover, 5-hmC loss was accompanied by diminished TET1 and TET2 mRNA expression. Genome-wide mapping of epidermal 5-hmC in murine psoriasis revealed loci-specific loss of 5-hmC in genes regulating stem cell homeostasis, including MBD1, RTN1, STRN4, PRKD2, AKT1, and MAPKAP2, as well as those associated with RAR and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways. In vitro restoration of TET expression by ascorbic acid was accomplished in cultured human keratinocyte stem cells to show similar Ca++-induced differentiation, resulting in increased 5-hmC levels and reduced nestin expression. To our knowledge, an epigenetic deficiency in psoriasis with relevance to stem cell dysregulation has not been previously reported. This observation raises the possibility that epigenetic modifiers that impact on the TET–5-hmC pathway may be a relevant approach of heretofore unappreciated therapeutic utility.



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