First published October 31, 2019 - More info
The corneocyte lipid envelope composed of covalently bound ceramides and fatty acids is important to the integrity of the permeability barrier in the stratum corneum, and its absence is a prime structural defect in various skin diseases associated with defective skin barrier function. SDR9C7 encodes a short chain dehydrogenase/reductase family 9C member 7 (SDR9C7) recently found mutated in ichthyosis. In a patient with SDR9C7 mutation and a mouse Sdr9c7 knockout model we show loss of covalent binding of epidermal ceramides to protein, a structural fault in the barrier. For reasons unresolved, protein binding requires lipoxygenase-catalyzed transformations of linoleic acid (18:2) esterified in ω-O-acylceramides. In Sdr9c7-/- epidermis, quantitative LC-MS assays revealed almost complete loss of a species of ω-O-acylceramide esterified with linoleate-9,10-trans-epoxy-11E-13-ketone; other acylceramides related to the lipoxygenase pathway were in higher abundance. Recombinant SDR9C7 catalyzed NAD+-dependent dehydrogenation of linoleate 9,10-trans-epoxy-11E-13-alcohol to the corresponding 13-ketone, while ichthyosis mutants were inactive. We propose, therefore, that the critical requirement for lipoxygenases and SDR9C7 is in producing acylceramide containing the 9,10-epoxy-11E-13-ketone, a reactive moiety known for its non-enzymatic coupling to protein. This suggests a mechanism for coupling of ceramide to protein and provides important insights into skin barrier formation and pathogenesis.