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J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Oct;125(4):647-58.

Induction of apoptosis-like mitochondrial impairment triggers antioxidant and Bcl-2-dependent keratinocyte differentiation.

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INSERM U459, Faculté de Médecine, Lille Cedex, France.


Terminally differentiated keratinocytes are dead enucleated squams. We showed previously that the mitochondria-dependent cell death pathway might be gradually activated as differentiation progresses. In this study, we demonstrated that protoporphyrin IX, staurosporine, and rotenone induced apoptotic-like changes in the mitochondria, and early differentiation of keratinocytes without inducing apoptosis. Kinetics studies established that differentiation-related changes, including growth arrest, flattened morphology, stratification, and keratin 10 (K10) expression, were downstream of mitochondrial depolarization and proliferation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and release of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor. When these changes were prevented by overexpressing Bcl-2 or pharmacologically decreasing the ROS level, K10 upregulation was inhibited, implying that the differentiated phenotype and K10 expression require apoptotic mitochondria, ROS being the most likely differentiation-mediating factor. Our data also suggest that the same mitochondria-affecting stimuli can induce either differentiation or apoptosis, depending on the keratinocyte's competency to undergo differentiation, a competency that may be controlled by Bcl-2.

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