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J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Dec;111(6):1145-52.

Induction of bone morphogenetic protein-6 in skin wounds. Delayed reepitheliazation and scar formation in BMP-6 overexpressing transgenic mice.

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  • 1Boehringer Ingelheim Research Group, I. Medical Department, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.


Growth factors of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily are involved in cutaneous wound healing. In this study we analyze the expression of the bone morphogenetic protein-6 (BMP-6) gene, a transforming growth factor-beta related gene, in skin wounds. In normal mouse skin high levels of BMP-6 mRNA and protein are expressed by postmitotic keratinocytes of stratified epidermis until day 6 after birth. BMP-6 expression is strongly reduced in adult epidermis with diminished mitotic activity. After skin injury we found large induction of BMP-6-specific RNA and protein in keratinocytes at the wound edge and keratinocytes of the newly formed epithelium as well as in fibroblast shaped cells in the wound bed. BMP-6-specific RNA was induced within 24 h after injury, whereas significant upregulation of BMP-6 on the protein level was detected only 2-3 d after injury. Protein was confined to outermost suprabasal epidermal layers, whereas BMP-6-specific RNA was distributed throughout all epidermal layers including basal keratinocytes and the leading edge of the migrating keratinocytes. We also detected high levels of BMP-6-specific RNA and protein in chronic human wounds of different etiology. In contrast to the overall distribution pattern of BMP-6-specific RNA, the protein was not detected in keratinocytes directly bordering the wound. In order to test the influence of BMP-6 abundance on the progress of wound healing, we analyzed the wound response of transgenic mice overexpressing BMP-6 in the epidermis. In these mice, reepitheliazation of skin wounds was significantly delayed, suggesting that strict spatial and temporal regulation of BMP-6 expression is necessary not only for formation but also for reestablishment of a fully differentiated epidermis.

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