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Coordination of keratinocyte programming in human SCC‐13 squamous carcinoma and normal epidermal cells


Exploiting the sensitivity of neoplastic keratinocytes to physiological effectors, this work analyzes the degree of coordination among differentiation markers in the established human epidermal squamous carcinoma cell line SCC-13 in comparison to normal human epidermal cells. This analysis showed that overall keratin content was modulated substantially and in parallel with particulate transglutaminase activity in response to variation of calcium, retinoic acid, and hydrocortisone concentrations in the medium. The changes in keratin expression were evident primarily in the striking stimulation by hydrocortisone or calcium and the virtual suppression by retinoic acid of species in the 56-58 kd region, which have not previously been reported subject to such physiological modulation. In contrast, involucrin levels were coordinated only to a limited degree with particulate transglutaminase activity and keratin content. The very low involucrin levels observed in low calcium medium were increased 5- to 10-fold in high calcium medium. However, they were also increased 5- to 30-fold in low calcium medium by retinoic acid, a clear example of uncoupling. Activities of the tissue transglutaminase were altered considerably by the various culture conditions but were not obviously coordinated to keratinocyte markers. In normal epidermal cells, the suppressive effect of retinoic acid was much more evident with particulate transglutaminase than involucrin levels. While calcium had a large stimulatory effect on both markers, hydrocortisone had little or no influence. These results emphasize the potential importance of quantitative analysis of differentiation markers for resolving the contribution of physiological elements in coordination of cellular programming.

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