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J Biol Chem. 1995 Sep 8;270(36):21362-7.

Elements controlling the expression and induction of the skin hyperproliferation-associated keratin K6.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Centro de Investigaciones Energeticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), Madrid, Spain.


The suprabasal keratin 6 (K6) is remarkable among the keratins as, in addition to being constitutively expressed in different stratified epithelia, it is induced in epidermis under hyperproliferative conditions, such as benign or malignant tumors, psoriasis, and wound healing. In addition, this keratin is also induced in skin treated with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate or retinoic acid (RA). These characteristics make the study of K6 regulatory elements an especially interesting issue, in particular because these elements could be useful in designing gene constructs for the therapy of skin diseases. We have analyzed by mobility shift and footprinting experiments the cell type-specific enhancer of the bovine K6 beta gene (Blessing, M., Jorcano, J. L., and Franke, W. W. (1989) EMBO J. 8, 117-126) and have identified an AP-2-like element, two AP-1 elements (one of them composite), and a retinoic acid-responsive element (RARE). Mutagenesis experiments and cotransfections with retinoic acid receptors show that the RARE mediates enhancer activation by RA. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assays show that under normal culture conditions, the AP-1 element retains most of the enhancer transcriptional activity, while the RARE and AP-2 are weakly active. However, following RA treatment, the AP-1 element is repressed and the RARE is activated, resulting in an overall stimulation of the enhancer by RA in the BMGE+H cells used in our study. These results explain in part the complex and sometimes contradictory response of keratin 6 to hyperproliferative stimuli.

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