The HOXC13-controlled expression of early hair keratin genes in the human hair follicle does not involve TALE proteins MEIS and PREP as cofactors

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We previously showed that the homeodomain protein HOXC13 is involved in the expression control of the early human hair keratin genes hHa5 and hHa2, which contain specific HOXC13 binding sites in their proximal promoters. Hox specificity is generally thought to be enhanced by the interaction with members of the TALE superclass of homeodomain proteins Pbx, Meis, and Prep. Using reverse transcription PCR with total human hair follicle RNA, we demonstrated transcripts of the major TALE proteins PBX1-4, MEIS1, 2 and PREP1, 2 in the human hair follicle. In view of the presence of MEIS/PREP responsive elements in close vicinity to the HOXC13 binding sites of the hHa5 and hHa2 promoters, we determined the expression sites of these TALE proteins in the human hair follicle. We found that MEIS1, MEIS2, PREP1 and PREP2 were differentially expressed in the three layers of the inner root sheath. In addition, MEIS2 and PREP1 exhibited expression in the mid-to upper hair cortex, with PREP1 being also expressed in the dermal papilla and the connective tissue sheath of the hair follicle. In virtually all cases, the expression of these TALE proteins was exclusively cytoplasmic. Considering that in contrast, HOXC13 is expressed in the nuclei of matrix, precortex and lower cuticle cells of the hair follicle, our data suggest that despite the presence of MEIS/PREP binding sites in the hHa5 and hHa2 promoters, the HOXC13-controlled activation of these genes in the hair follicle does not seem to involve these TALE proteins as cofactors.

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