The hairless gene mutated in congenital hair loss disorders encodes a novel nuclear receptor corepressor

G. B. Potter, G. M.J. Beaudoin, C. L. DeRenzo, J. M. Zarach, S. H. Chen, C. C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


The mammalian hairless (hr) gene plays a critical role in the maintenance of hair growth. Although the hr gene has been identified, the biochemical function of its encoded protein (Hr) has remained obscure. Here, we show that Hr functions as a transcriptional corepressor for thyroid hormone receptors (TRs). We find that two independent regions of Hr mediate TR binding and that interaction requires a cluster of hydrophobic residues similar to the binding motifs proposed for nuclear receptor corepressors (N-CoR and SMRT). Similarly, we show that Hr binds to the same region of TR as known corepressors. We show that Hr interacts with histone deacetylases (HDACs) and is localized to matrix-associated deacetylase (MAD) bodies, indicating that the mechanism of Hr-mediated repression is likely through associated HDAC activity. Thus, Hr is a component of the corepressor machinery, and despite its lack of sequence identity with previously described corepressors, its mode of action is remarkably conserved. On the basis of its thyroid hormone-inducible and tissue- and developmental-specific expression, Hr likely defines a new class of nuclear receptor corepressors that serve a more specialized role than ubiquitous corepressors. The discovery that Hr is a corepressor provides a molecular basis for specific hair loss syndromes in both humans and mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2687-2701
Number of pages15
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Histone deacetylase
  • Nuclear receptor
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Transcriptional repression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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