Molecular Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 77–86 | Cite as

Extracellularly Extruded Syntaxin-4 Is a Potent Cornification Regulator of Epidermal Keratinocytes

  • Nanako Kadono
  • Natsumi Hagiwara
  • Takashi Tagawa
  • Kenji Maekubo
  • Yohei Hirai
Research Article


In the skin epidermis, keratinocytes undergo anchorage-dependent cornification, which gives rise to stratified multilayers, each with a distinct differentiation feature. The active formation of the cornified cell envelope (CCE), an important element in the skin barrier, occurs in keratinocytes of the upper epidermal layers and impacts their terminal differentiation. In the present study, we identified the extracellularly extruded syntaxin-4 as a potent differentiation regulator of epidermal keratinocytes. We found that differentiation stimuli led to the acceleration of syntaxin-4 exposure at the keratinocyte cell surface and that the artificial control of extracellular syntaxin-4, either by the forced expression of several syntaxin-4 mutants with structural alterations at the putative functional core site (AIEPQK), or by using antagonistic circular peptides containing this core sequence, dramatically influenced the CCE formation, with spatial misexpression of TGase1 and involucrin. We also found that the topical application of a peptide that exerted the most prominent antagonistic activity for syntaxin-4, named ST4n1, evidently prevented the formation of the hyperplastic and hyperkeratotic epidermis generated by physical irritation in HR-1 mice skin. Collectively, these results demonstrate that extracellularly extruded syntaxin-4 is a potent regulator of CCE differentiation, and that ST4n1 has potential as a clinically applicable reagent for keratotic skin lesions.



We are grateful to M Manabe for the HaCaT keratinocyte. We thank DC Radisky and all members of the laboratory for helpful discussions. Part of this work was supported by Grant in Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI 24590365).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material, approximately 924 KB.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Nanako Kadono
    • 1
    • 2
  • Natsumi Hagiwara
    • 1
    • 2
  • Takashi Tagawa
    • 1
  • Kenji Maekubo
    • 1
  • Yohei Hirai
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BioscienceKwansei Gakuin UniversityNishinomiyaJapan
  2. 2.Research Center for Intelligent Bio-MaterialsKwansei Gakuin UniversityNishinomiyaJapan

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