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Exp Dermatol. 2009 Feb;18(2):143-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2008.00775.x. Epub 2008 Jul 9.

Effects of extracellular calcium on the growth-differentiation switch in immortalized keratinocyte HaCaT cells compared with normal human keratinocytes.

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1
Biomolécules et thérapies anti-tumorales, EA4021-Faculté de Pharmacie, Limoges Cedex, France.

Abstract

The keratinocyte growth and differentiation switch, tightly regulated by several mechanisms, is generally associated with decreased proliferation, cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 phase and expression of epidermal differentiation markers, such as keratin 1 (K1), keratin 10 (K10) and involucrin. In vitro, the spontaneously immortalized human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT is often used as a model to study keratinocyte functions. Comparative differentiation studies between HaCaT cells and normal human keratinocytes (NHK) over an extended time-period have rarely been reported. Therefore, we studied their switch from a proliferating to a differentiated state over 13 days. As culture conditions involved changes in cellular responses, cells were cultured in a specific medium for keratinocyte growth and differentiation was induced by increasing extracellular calcium concentration from 0.09 to 1.2 mm. In NHK, addition of calcium-induced morphological changes and concomitant decreased proliferation. For HaCaT cells, calcium addition resulted in morphological changes, but in an unexpected manner, cells were more proliferative than when cultured at low calcium levels. HaCaT cell hyperproliferation correlated with cell cycle analysis, showing an accumulation in S/G2-M phases. Furthermore, RT-PCR and western blot analysis revealed a delay in the expression of the differentiation markers K1, K10 and involucrin in HaCaT cells compared with NHK. In conclusion, even though calcium-induced differentiation was not associated with a decreased cell proliferation, HaCaT cells conserved properties characteristic of differentiation.

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