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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Aug;24(16):7072-81.

Keratins modulate c-Flip/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 antiapoptotic signaling in simple epithelial cells.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie et Département de Médecine, Université Laval, and Centre de Recherche de L'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Quebec G1R 2J6, Canada.


Among the large family of intermediate filament proteins, the keratin 8 and 18 (K8/K18) pair constitutes a hallmark for all simple epithelial cells, such as hepatocytes and mammary cells. Functional studies with different cell models have suggested that K8/K18 are involved in simple epithelial cell resistance to several forms of stress that may lead to cell death. We have reported recently that K8/K18-deprived hepatocytes from K8-null mice are more sensitive to Fas-mediated apoptosis. Here we show that upon Fas, tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor, or tumor necrosis factor alpha-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor stimulation, an inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) activation sensitizes wild-type but not K8-null mouse hepatocytes to apoptosis and that a much weaker ERK1/2 activation occurs in K8-null hepatocytes. In turn, this impaired ERK1/2 activation in K8-null hepatocytes is associated with a drastic reduction in c-Flip protein, an event that also holds in a K8-null mouse mammary cell line. c-Flip, along with Raf-1, is part of a K8/K18-immunoisolated complex from wild-type hepatocytes, and Fas stimulation leads to further c-Flip and Raf-1 recruitment in the complex. This points to a new regulatory role of simple epithelium keratins in the c-Flip/ERK1/2 antiapoptotic signaling pathway.

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