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Cell Death Differ. 2011 Jul;18(7):1120-9. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2010.182. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

TAK1 regulates SCF expression to modulate PKBα activity that protects keratinocytes from ROS-induced apoptosis.

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School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


Dysregulated reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation contributes to many human pathologies, including cancer and diabetes. During normal wound repair, inflammation-induced ROS production must be tightly controlled, but the mechanisms reining their generation remain unclear. Herein, we show that transforming growth factor β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) directly regulates stem cell factor (SCF) expression, which activates the protein kinase B (PKB)α pro-survival pathway in a cell-autonomous manner to protect keratinocytes from ROS-mediated cell death. TAK1 is a pivotal inflammatory mediator whose expression was transiently elevated during wound healing, paralleling the ROS production profile. TAK1 deficiency in keratinocytes led to increased apoptosis in response to anoikis and TNF-α treatment and was associated with elevated ROS level as analyzed by FACS. Using organotypic skin co-culture and comparative growth factor array analysis, we revealed a cell-autonomous mechanism that involved the SCF/c-Kit/PKBα signaling cascade. Ectopic expression of TAK1 or treatment with exogenous recombinant SCF restored the increased ROS production and apoptotic cell death in TAK1-deficient keratinocytes. Conversely, normal keratinocytes treated with various inhibitors targeting the SCF/c-Kit/PKBα pathway exhibited increased ROS production and TNF-α- or anoikis-induced apoptosis. Our study reveals a novel anti-apoptotic role for SCF in keratinocytes and identifies TAK1 as a novel player uniting inflammation and ROS regulation in skin redox biology.

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