, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 201-209

Ion channels are linked to differentiation in keratinocytes

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In vivo and in vitro, keratinocyte differentiation is linked with increased extracellular Ca2+. In order to correlate ion channels with cell differentiation and investigate keratinocyte membrane responses to Ca2+, keratinocyte single channel currents were studied using the patch-clamp technique. The most frequently observed channel was a 14 pS nonspecific cation channel. This channel was permeable to Ca2+ and activated by physiological concentrations of Ca2+. We also found a 35 pS Cl channel whose open probability increased with depolarization. Finally, a 70 pS K+ channel was seen only in cell-attached or nystatin-permeabilized patches. We correlated channel types with staining for involucrin, an early marker of keratinocyte differentiation. While the nonspecific cation channel and Cl channel were seen in both involucrin positive and involucrin negative cells, all channels in which the K+ channel activity was present were involucrin positive. Membrane currents through these channels may be one pathway by which signals for keratinocyte proliferation or differentiation are sent.

This work was supported in part by a National Institutes of Health grant K08 AR01853-03 and a National Science Foundation grant DCB-9009915 (to T.M.M.); National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Award K04 ARO 1803 and AR 39031 (to R.R.I.) and a National Institutes of Health grant GM-44840 (to P.A.P.).