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Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 1998 May-Jun;11(3):152-60.

The induction of terminal differentiation markers by the cAMP pathway in human HaCaT keratinocytes.

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  • 1Estée Lauder Research Laboratories, St. John's University, New York, N.Y., USA.


The terminal differentiation of human epidermal keratinocytes is a complex morphological and biochemical shift from a mitotically active cell to an inert protein cross-linked envelope. This transition is a clearly predetermined cell death mechanism, but it is unlike many other programmed cell deaths in that it is not apoptotic. To explore and contrast the mechanism by which keratinocytes are committed to differentiation rather than apoptosis, we focused on the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signaling pathway using selective modulators of intracellular cAMP levels. Markers of differentiation were assayed by Western blotting. Raising intracelluar cAMP levels by treating HaCaT cells with forskolin, a diterpene, or with isobutylmethylxanthine, a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, and isoproterenol, a beta-adrenergic receptor agonist that selectively activates adenylate cyclase, increased the levels of the differentiation markers keratin K1 and K10, involucrin and transglutaminase. H89 and KT5720, both inhibitors of cAMP-dependent protein kinase, suppressed the expression of keratins K1 and K10. These observations are in line with the defined role for cAMP in the control of keratinocyte differentiation.

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