Scientists discover essential protein for healthy skin barrier

The research could lead to treating common skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and dehydration

The epidermis is critical in supporting overall skin health, and now scientists are one step closer to understanding how a compromised barrier can lead to eczema, psoriasis and dehydration.

Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, US, have discovered an essential protein for developing the skin's barrier.

The team found that the HDAC3 gene is vital for proper barrier formation and that newborn mice without it failed to develop a skin barrier, and died shortly after due to dehydration.

The findings are said to allow the team to explore in more detail specific skin concerns the role of HDAC3 and how to manage the conditions.

"HDAC3 is particularly interesting to us, as it associates with different proteins in different tissue types to regulate its target genes," said Katherine Szigety, an MD/PhD student and first author of the study.

"While HDAC3 has been studied in diverse contexts, its role and transcriptional partners in the developing epidermis had not been identified until now."

The New York City-based scientists also found that HDAC3 regulates target gene expression in a distinctly different way from its related proteins HDAC1 and HDAC2.

Dr Sarah Millar, Director of the school's Black Family Stem Cell Institute, added: "Unlike HDACs 1 and 2, HDAC3's functions in regulating epidermal development appear to be independent of its enzyme activity.

"Because clinically available HDAC inhibitors specifically block enzyme function, our findings suggest that the effects of treatment with an HDAC inhibitor might resemble loss of HDACs 1 and 2 in the skin, but perhaps not HDAC3."