Serum affects keratinization and tight junctions in three-dimensional cultures of the mouse keratinocyte cell line COCA through retinoic acid receptor-mediated signaling
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Vitamin A, which is found in serum, is known to affect keratinocyte proliferation, epidermal differentiation, and keratinization. In mice, stratified epithelia in the oral cavity, esophagus, and forestomach are keratinized; however, these epithelia are not keratinized in humans. Several studies have reported that three-dimensional (3D) cultures of human keratinocytes in serum-containing medium could form keratinized epithelia. Here, we evaluated the effects of serum on the morphology, expression, and localization of differentiation markers and tight junction proteins, and paracellular permeability in 3D cultures of mouse keratinocytes. We found that only 0.1% calcium-depleted serum inhibited keratinization and induced a change in the expression of differentiation marker proteins from loricrin to keratin 4; the inhibition of retinoic acid receptor-mediated signaling reversed these changes. Furthermore, the serum reduced claudin-1 protein expression and prevented its localization at occludin-positive spots on the surface of 3D cultures. On the other hand, the serum increased the protein expression of claudin-4, occludin, zonula occludens-1, and E-cadherin. These changes may contribute to the reduction of the transepithelial electrical resistance by approximately half. In conclusion, mouse keratinocytes derived from the epidermis formed non-keratinized structures in 3D cultures in response to vitamin A in serum. The results suggest that retinoic acid receptor-mediated signaling may be inhibited in the mouse epithelia in the oral cavity, esophagus, and forestomach as well as the epidermis, leading to the keratinization of these epithelia.
KeywordsRetinoic acid receptor Keratinocyte Three-dimensional culture Keratinization Tight junction Claudin
This study was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (no. 26460285) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology in Japan.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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