Keratinocyte survival, differentiation, and death: many roads lead to mitogen-activated protein kinase

J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2002 Dec;7(1):36-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2002.19634.x.


The epidermis is a dynamic and continually renewing surface that provides and maintains a life-sustaining interface with the environment. The epidermal keratinocyte, the major cell type of the epidermis, undergoes a complex and carefully choreographed program of differentiation. This process requires a balance between keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. This overview will concentrate on cascades that regulate the balance between keratinocyte cell proliferation and survival, and apoptosis and cell differentiation, with a particular emphasis on the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades. A summary of the literature suggests that extracellular regulated kinases function to promote keratinocyte proliferation and survival, whereas p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase functions to promote differentiation and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Keratinocytes / physiology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*


  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases