Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine
Deficiency of the palmitoyl-acyl transferase ZDHHC13 compromises skin barrier permeability and renders mice susceptible to environmental bacterial infection and inflammatory dermatitis. It had been unclear how lack of ZDHHC13 proteins resulted in cutaneous abnormalities. In this study, we first demonstrate that enzymatic palmitoylation activity, rather than protein scaffolding, by ZDHHC13 is essential for skin barrier integrity, showing that knock-in mice bearing an enzymatically dead DQ-to-AA ZDHHC13 mutation cyclically lost their hair after weaning, recapitulating knock-out phenotypes of skin inflammation and dermatitis. To establish the ZDHHC13 substrates responsible for skin barrier development, we employed quantitative proteomic approaches to identify protein molecules whose palmitoylation is tightly controlled by ZDHHC13. We identified over 300 candidate proteins that could be classified into four biological categories: immunological disease, skin development and function, dermatological disease, and lipid metabolism. Palmitoylation of three of these candidates—loricrin, peptidyl arginine deiminase type III and keratin fiber crosslinker transglutaminase 1—by ZDHHC13 was confirmed by biochemical assay. Palmitoylation was critical for in vivo protein stability of the latter two candidates. Our findings reveal the importance of protein palmitoylation in skin barrier development, partly by promoting envelope protein crosslinking and the filaggrin processing pathway.