Transcriptomic Network Interactions in Human Skin Treated with Topical Glucocorticoid Clobetasol Propionate

Loukia N. Lili, Anna Klopot, Benjamin Readhead, Gleb Baida, Joel T. Dudley, Irina Budunova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoids are the most frequently used anti-inflammatory drugs in dermatology. However, the molecular signature of glucocorticoids and their receptor in human skin is largely unknown. Our validated bioinformatics analysis of human skin transcriptome induced by topical glucocorticoid clobetasol propionate (CBP) in healthy volunteers identified numerous unreported glucocorticoid-responsive genes, including over a thousand noncoding RNAs. We observed sexual and racial dimorphism in the CBP response including a shift toward IFN-α/IFN-γ and IL-6/Jak/Signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 signaling in female skin; and a larger response to CBP in African-American skin. Weighted gene coexpression network analysis unveiled a dense skin network of 41 transcription factors including circadian Kruppel-like factor 9 (KLF9), and ∼260 of their target genes enriched for functional pathways representative of the entire CBP transcriptome. Using keratinocytes with Kruppel-like factor 9 knockdown, we revealed a feedforward loop in glucocorticoid receptor signaling, previously unreported. Interestingly, many of the CBP-regulated transcription factors were involved in the control of development, metabolism, circadian clock; and 80% of them were associated with skin aging showing similarities between glucocorticoid-treated and aged skin. Overall, these findings indicate that glucocorticoid receptor acts as an important regulator of gene expression in skin—both at the transcriptional and posttranscriptional level—via multiple mechanisms including regulation of noncoding RNAs and multiple core transcription factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2281-2291
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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