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PLoS One. 2007 Aug 1;2(8):e697.

In vitro human keratinocyte migration rates are associated with SNPs in the KRT1 interval.

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Perlegen Sciences, Mountain View, California, United States of America.


Efforts to develop effective therapeutic treatments for promoting fast wound healing after injury to the epidermis are hindered by a lack of understanding of the factors involved. Re-epithelialization is an essential step of wound healing involving the migration of epidermal keratinocytes over the wound site. Here, we examine genetic variants in the keratin-1 (KRT1) locus for association with migration rates of human epidermal keratinocytes (HEK) isolated from different individuals. Although the role of intermediate filament genes, including KRT1, in wound activated keratinocytes is well established, this is the first study to examine if genetic variants in humans contribute to differences in the migration rates of these cells. Using an in vitro scratch wound assay we observe quantifiable variation in HEK migration rates in two independent sets of samples; 24 samples in the first set and 17 samples in the second set. We analyze genetic variants in the KRT1 interval and identify SNPs significantly associated with HEK migration rates in both samples sets. Additionally, we show in the first set of samples that the average migration rate of HEK cells homozygous for one common haplotype pattern in the KRT1 interval is significantly faster than that of HEK cells homozygous for a second common haplotype pattern. Our study demonstrates that genetic variants in the KRT1 interval contribute to quantifiable differences in the migration rates of keratinocytes isolated from different individuals. Furthermore we show that in vitro cell assays can successfully be used to deconstruct complex traits into simple biological model systems for genetic association studies.

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