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Cancer Cell. 2008 Sep 9;14(3):212-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2008.07.017.

IKKalpha is required to maintain skin homeostasis and prevent skin cancer.

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  • 1Department of Carcinogenesis, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Smithville, TX 78957, USA.


It has long been known that excessive mitotic activity due to H-Ras can block keratinocyte differentiation and cause skin cancer. It is not clear whether there are any innate surveillants that are able to ensure that keratinocytes undergo terminal differentiation, preventing the disease. IKKalpha induces keratinocyte terminal differentiation, and its downregulation promotes skin tumor development. However, its intrinsic function in skin cancer is unknown. Here, we found that mice with IKKalpha deletion in keratinocytes develop a thickened epidermis and spontaneous squamous cell-like carcinomas. Inactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or reintroduction of IKKalpha inhibits excessive mitosis, induces terminal differentiation, and prevents skin cancer through repressing an EGFR-driven autocrine loop. Thus, IKKalpha serves as an innate surveillant.

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