IKKα enhances human keratinocyte differentiation and determines the histological variant of epidermal squamous cell carcinomas
Volume 7, Issue 13
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July 1, 2008
Pages 2021 - 2029http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cc.7.13.6147
Authors: Rodolfo Moreno-Maldonado, Angel Ramírez, Manuel Navarro, M. Jesús Fernández-Aceñero, Concepción Villanueva, Angustias Page, José L. Jorcano, Ana Bravo and M. Llanos Casanova View affiliations
Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the skin display different clinical features according to their epithelial differentiation grade and histological variant. Understanding the causes of these divergences might increase the curability of SCCs. Therefore, it is important to study the mechanisms of differentiation in keratinocytes. IKK (IκB kinase) α is an important protein for epidermal morphogenesis, although the pathways through which it exerts its function are unknown and controversy exists about its role in cancer development. We show that enhanced IKKα expression increases both early and terminal differentiation of human keratinocytes through an E-cadherin-dependent mechanism. Increased expression of IKKα in mouse tumorigenic epidermal cells leads to changes in the differentiation pattern of the resulting SCCs, originating a distinct histological variant that resembles the human acantholytic SCC (ASCC) variant. Although human ASCCs have an aggressive clinical course and high risk of metastasis, nothing is known about their etiology. We show that human ASCCs, as observed in the counterpart IKKα murine tumors, express high levels of both IKKα and E-cadherin, with absence of keratins K1 and K10, usually co-expressed with IKKα and E-cadherin. The tight correlation between the properties of both murine and human ASCC variants strongly suggests that IKKα is responsible for the development of this human SCC variant.