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J Pathol. 2001 Feb;193(2):248-55.

In situ demonstration of phosphorylated c-jun and p38 MAP kinase in epidermal keratinocytes following ultraviolet B irradiation of human skin.

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University Hospital Nijmegen, Department of Dermatology, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation is known to induce activation of cellular stress response pathways in cultured cells or intact human skin, as demonstrated by phosphorylation of MAP kinase family members and up- or down-stream targets, using biochemical assays. This study demonstrates by immunohistochemistry that low-dose UVB irradiation of normal human skin induces rapid and reversible phosphorylation of c-jun (a target of c-jun N-terminal kinase) and p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (p38 MAP kinase). Phosphorylation was maximal at 4-8 h and returned to normal levels at 48 h after irradiation. Nuclear localization of these phosphorylated substrates was found using antisera against the epitope containing the phosphorylated serine-73 of c-jun, and the dually phosphorylated epitope (threonine-180 and tyrosine-182) of p38 MAP kinase. Nearly all epidermal cells were positive for c-jun phosphorylation, whereas p38 phosphorylation was seen predominantly in the differentiated layers. In contrast to the massive activation of c-jun and p38, only a small population of the suprabasal cells showed nuclear translocation of nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB), and a few scattered cells became apoptotic, as determined by TUNEL (TdT mediated dUTP nick end labelling) staining. The expression of involucrin and skin-derived anti-leukoproteinase (SKALP)/elafin, two genes putatively under control of the c-jun and p38 pathways, was found to be increased. These findings establish the first cellular localization of UVB-induced protein phosphorylation of stress response proteins in human epidermis, thereby providing a link between cellular activation and gene expression in defined cell populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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