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J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Nov;111(5):715-21.

Autocrine regulation of keratinocytes: the emerging role of heparin-binding, epidermal growth factor-related growth factors.

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1
Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA.

Abstract

Although originally conceived as a basis for malignant cell growth, autocrine signaling networks are currently known to be activated during tissue repair and with in vitro cultivation. In human epidermal keratinocytes, activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor by cognate ligands mediates the majority of the autonomous replicative capacity of these cells and is necessary to inhibit differentiation and apoptosis. The importance of heparin-binding growth factors in activation of this receptor was first suggested by the strong anti-proliferative effects of soluble heparin-like molecules on keratinocyte growth. This and related evidence led to the identification of amphiregulin as a major autocrine factor for keratinocytes. The binding of amphiregulin and its homolog, heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor, to the receptor is potentially amplified by autoinduction and cross-signaling through epidermal growth factor-related polypeptides and by transmodulation of other ErbB-family receptors (HER-2, -3, -4) in cells expressing these receptors. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans and the tetraspanin family of membrane-associated proteins appear to act as cofactors in amphiregulin-driven mitogenesis mediated by the epidermal growth factor receptor, but amphiregulin's immunolocalization to keratinocyte nuclei and to filopodia may indicate other potentially novel effects. Following from the observation that amphiregulin is overexpressed in lesional psoriatic epidermis, the importance of amphiregulin in hyperproliferative skin diseases has been further supported by recent studies of the targeted expression of a transgene encoding keratin 14 promoter-driven human amphiregulin to the basal epidermis of mice. Founder transgenic mice displayed a morphologic and microscopic cutaneous phenotype that shares characteristics with psoriasis. Pharmacologic regulation of amphiregulin's expression and receptor signaling may eventually prove to be an effective strategy in the treatment of hyperproliferative skin diseases.

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