Aquaporin 3 (AQP3) is located in the basal layer of the epidermis and regulates biological functions of skin such as water content and trans-epidermal water loss. A recent study showed that the biological function of skin exhibits a 24-hour rhythm, but the molecular mechanism of the variation remains poorly understood. Here we show that mice mutated in the core clock component CLOCK (Clk/Clk) show decreased stratum corneum hydration. An extensive search for the underlying cause led us to identify AQP3 as a new regulator to control the 24-hour variation in biological functions of skin. In mouse epidermis of wild-type mice, mAqp3 exhibits circadian rhythms; however, these are significantly decreased in Clk/Clk. Luciferase reporter gene analysis revealed that transcription of mAqp3 is activated by D-site-binding protein, a clock gene. A human homolog, hAQP3, also exhibited significant oscillation in human keratinocyte (HaCaT) cells synchronized with medium containing 50% serum, and this rhythm was regulated by the endogenous CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimer. These data indicate that although the molecular mechanisms underlying the rhythmic expression of mAqp3 and hAQP3 are different, clock genes are involved in time-dependent skin hydration. Our current findings provide a molecular link between the circadian clock and AQP3 function in mouse dorsal skin and HaCaT cells.
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