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Fatty acid transporters in skin development, function and disease.


Fatty acids in the epidermis can be incorporated into complex lipids or exist in a free form, and they are crucial to proper functions of the epidermis and its appendages, such as sebaceous glands. Epidermal fatty acids can be synthesized de novo by keratinocytes or taken up from extracutaneous sources in a process that likely involves protein transporters. Several proteins that are expressed in the epidermis have been proposed to facilitate the uptake of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) in mammalian cells, including fatty acid translocase/CD36, fatty acid binding protein, and fatty acid transport protein (FATP)/very long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase. In this review, we will discuss the mechanisms by which these candidate transporters facilitate the uptake of fatty acids. We will then discuss the clinical implications of defects in these transporters and relevant animal models, including the FATP4 animal models and ichthyosis prematurity syndrome, a congenital ichthyosis caused by FATP4 deficiency. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.