Differentiation of cultured human epidermal keratinocytes at high cell densities is mediated by endogenous activation of the protein kinase C signaling pathway

Y. S. Lee, S. H. Yuspa, A. A. Dlugosz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

Normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK) grown in serum-free medium on a plastic substrate spontaneously differentiate at high cell densities in vitro. Because protein kinase C (PKC) regulates murine keratinocyte differentiation triggered by a variety of stimuli, we examined the role of this signaling pathway in density-dependent activation of NHEK differentiation. Relative to subconfluent cultures, confluent NHEK expressed markedly higher levels of multiple differentiation markers assayed by immunoblotting, including keratin 1, loricrin, filaggrin, involucrin, TGK, and SPR-1. Expression of several of these markers continued to increase for several days after cells reached confluency. The total level of several PKC isoforms was not substantially altered in NHEK harvested at different cell densities, based on immunoblotting; however, subcellular fractionation revealed that PKCα underwent a redistribution to the particulate fraction in confluent and postconfluent NHEK cultures, suggesting that this isozyme was activated under these conditions and may be involved in triggering the terminal differentiation program. Supporting this concept, inhibition of PKC function using bryostatin 1 or GF 109203X blocked the induction of keratinocyte differentiation markers at high cell densities. These data suggest that endogenous activation of PKC is responsible for cell density- mediated stimulation of NHEK differentiation, establishing a critical role for this pathway in regulating human as well as murine keratinocyte differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-766
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Volume111
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

Keywords

  • Bryostatin
  • Filaggrin
  • Involucrin
  • Keratins
  • Loricrin
  • SPR-1

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