Epidermal Differentiation Complex: A Review on Its Epigenetic Regulation and Potential Drug Targets

Document Type : Review Article



The primary feature of the mammalian skin includes the hair follicle, inter-follicular epidermis and the sebaceous glands, all of which form pilo-sebaceous units. The epidermal protective layer undergoes an ordered/programmed process of proliferation and differentiation, ultimately culminating in the formation of a cornified envelope consisting of enucleated corneocytes. These terminally differentiated cells slough off in a cyclic manner and this process is regulated via induction or repression of epidermal differentiation complex (EDC) genes. These genes, spanning 2 Mb region of human chromosome 1q21, play a crucial role in epidermal development, through various mechanisms. Each of these mechanisms employs a unique chromatin re-modelling factor or an epigenetic modifier. These factors act to regulate epidermal differentiation singly and/or in combination. Diseases like psoriasis and cancer exhibit aberrations in proliferation and differentiation through, in part, dysregulation in these epigenetic mechanisms. Knowledge of the existing mechanisms in the physiological and the aforesaid pathological contexts may not only facilitate drug development, it also can make refinements to the existing drug delivery systems.