Human calmodulin-like protein (CLP) is a calcium-binding protein down-regulated in a cell culture model of mammary tumorigenesis as well as in a majority of breast cancers in vivo. CLP down-regulation may be a result of the poorly differentiated state of these cell lines and tumors, or CLP expression may be incompatible with the uncontrolled cell growth associated with tumorigenesis. To learn more about CLP expression and regulation, we determined the distribution of CLP in various human tissues by immunohistochemistry. CLP was expressed exclusively in the epithelium of the tissues surveyed and was most abundant in thyroid, breast, prostate, kidney, and skin. CLP expression appears to increase in stratified epithelium during differentiation, as illustrated in the skin where CLP staining intensified from the basal through the spinous to the granular layers. Using a normal human keratinocyte culture model, we examined CLP expression in response to various agents known to affect keratinocyte differentiation. Agents that inhibit (epidermal growth factor, EGF) or permit (keratinocyte growth factor) terminal differentiation correspondingly regulate CLP expression. Factors modulating the EGF receptor signaling pathway were particularly potent in regulating CLP expression. CLP expression correlated with an agent's ability to promote terminal differentiation regardless of the agent's effect on keratinocyte proliferation. These studies show that CLP expression is coordinately regulated by, and may be involved in, the program of terminal differentiation in human keratinocytes and, likely, other differentiating epithelial cell types.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.