SOX family proteins SOX2 and SOX18 have been reported as being essential in determining hair follicle type; however, the role they play during development remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that Sox18 regulates the normal differentiation of the dermal papilla of all hair types. In guard (primary) hair dermal condensate (DC) cells, we identified transient Sox18 in addition to SOX2 expression at E14.5, which allowed fate tracing of primary DC cells until birth. Similarly, expression of Sox18 was detected in the DC cells of secondary hairs at E16.5 and in tertiary hair at E18.5. Dominant-negative Sox18 mutation (opposum) did not prevent DC formation in any hair type. However, it affected dermal papilla differentiation, restricting hair formation especially in secondary and tertiary hairs. This Sox18 mutation also prevented neonatal dermal cells or dermal papilla spheres from inducing hair in regeneration assays. Microarray expression studies identified WNT5A and TNC as potential downstream effectors of SOX18 that are important for epidermal WNT signalling. In conclusion, SOX18 acts as a mesenchymal molecular switch necessary for the formation and function of the dermal papilla in all hair types.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
K.K., R.V., M.F., S.H., C.A. and B.W. designed experiments and analysed data. R.V., S.H., J.L., J.G., C.P.-T. and H.Y.W. performed experiments. All authors contributed to manuscript writing and proofreading.
This work was supported by a Career Development Fellowship from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (to K.K.) and an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (DP130104777).
Microarray data are available in the ArrayExpress database under accession number E-MTAB-5673 (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/arrayexpress/experiments/E-MTAB-5673/).
Supplementary information available online at http://dev.biologists.org/lookup/doi/10.1242/dev.143917.supplemental
- Received August 19, 2016.
- Accepted January 19, 2017.