The top skin-associated genes: a comparative analysis of human and mouse skin transcriptomes

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Abstract

The mouse represents a key model system for the study of the physiology and biochemistry of skin. Comparison of skin between mouse and human is critical for interpretation and application of data from mouse experiments to human disease. Here, we review the current knowledge on structure and immunology of mouse and human skin. Moreover, we present a systematic comparison of human and mouse skin transcriptomes. To this end, we have recently used a genome-wide database of human gene expression to identify genes highly expressed in skin, with no, or limited expression elsewhere - human skin-associated genes (hSAGs). Analysis of our set of hSAGs allowed us to generate a comprehensive molecular characterization of healthy human skin. Here, we used a similar database to generate a list of mouse skin-associated genes (mSAGs). A comparative analysis between the top human (n=666) and mouse (n=873) skin-associated genes (SAGs) revealed a total of only 30.2% identity between the two lists. The majority of shared genes encode proteins that participate in structural and barrier functions. Analysis of the top functional annotation terms revealed an overlap for morphogenesis, cell adhesion, structure, and signal transduction. The results of this analysis, discussed in the context of published data, illustrate the diversity between the molecular make up of skin of both species and grants a probable explanation, why results generated in murine in vivo models often fail to translate into the human.

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