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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1988;548:191-6.

Signal transduction for proliferation and differentiation in keratinocytes.

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Laboratory of Cellular Carcinogenesis and Tumor Promotion, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


In mouse and human epidermis, the Ca2+ environment of the basal cell layer is substantially below serum Ca2+, while that of the granular cell layer is unusually high. Reduction of extracellular Ca2+ concentration (Cao) in the medium of keratinocyte cultures maintains a basal cell phenotype while serum Ca2+ concentrations induce terminal differentiation. Measurements of intracellular Ca2+ (Cai) by the use of Fura 2 and digital imaging technology reveal that Cai increases 10-20-fold in response to an increase in Cao and remains elevated. Concomitant with the rise in Cai is an increase in the metabolism of phosphatidylinositol (PI) to yield inositol phosphates and diacylglycerol. PI metabolism is also stimulated by calcium ionophores suggesting that a rise in Cai is directly responsible. The consequent increase in diacylglycerol and Cai would activate protein kinase C, an event known to trigger epidermal differentiation. Specific Cao and Cai determine the expression of individual markers of keratinocyte differentiation in vitro. These findings may account for the importance of the Ca2+ gradient for maintaining regulated growth and differentiation of the epidermis in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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