Abstract Keratinocytes of inflamed epidermis (psoriasis, wound healing) are hyperproliferative and display an abnormal differentiation programme. This regenerative differentiation pathway is characterized by the induction of genes that are not expressed by keratinocytes in normal skin, such as the cytokeratins CK6, CK16, CK17, and the proteinase inhibitor SKALP/¶elafin. In the study reported here we investigated the induction and regulation of SKALP expression as a marker for regenerative differentiation in epidermal keratinocytes. Various cytokines and growth factors known to be present in psoriatic epidermis were examined for their ability to induce SKALP gene expression in cultured human keratinocytes. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and serum were found to be potent inducers of SKALP expression at both the mRNA and the protein levels. SB202190 or SB203580, two specific p38 MAP kinase inhibitors almost completely blocked the induction of SKALP expression by TNF-α and serum. These results suggest that in keratinocytes, p38 activity is crucial for the induction of SKALP gene expression. These findings could be relevant for the elucidation of the mechanisms involved in normal and disturbed epidermal differentiation.
Key words DifferentiationStress responseEpidermisSignal transduction