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Mol Biol Cell. 2006 Aug;17(8):3446-55. Epub 2006 Jun 7.

A role for the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 1 in epithelial wound healing.

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Department of Environmental Health and Center for Environmental Genetics, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0056, USA.


The mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) kinase 1 (MEKK1) mediates activin B signals required for eyelid epithelium morphogenesis during mouse fetal development. The present study investigates the role of MEKK1 in epithelial wound healing, another activin-regulated biological process. In a skin wound model, injury markedly stimulates MEKK1 expression and activity, which are in turn required for the expression of genes involved in extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis. MEKK1 ablation or down-regulation by interfering RNA significantly delays skin wound closure and impairs activation of Jun NH2-terminal kinases, induction of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1, and restoration of cell-cell junctions of the wounded epidermis. Conversely, expression of wild-type MEKK1 accelerates reepithelialization of full-thickness skin and corneal debridement wounds by mechanisms involving epithelial cell migration, a cell function that is partially abolished by neutralizing antibodies for PAI-1 and metalloproteinase III. Our data suggest that MEKK1 transmits wound signals, leading to the transcriptional activation of genes involved in ECM homeostasis, epithelial cell migration, and wound reepithelialization.

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