Epidermal morphogenesis: the transcriptional program of human keratinocytes during stratification

J Invest Dermatol. 2006 Aug;126(8):1834-41. doi: 10.1038/sj.jid.5700325. Epub 2006 Apr 27.


The epidermis serves to protect the body against environmental assaults and at the same time is able to survive and replenish itself under harsh conditions. The epidermis accomplishes this feat via a well-orchestrated program of stratification and terminal differentiation that provides barrier against infection, radiation, and water loss. Despite significant progress in skin biology, many molecules and pathways that are involved in stratification and barrier formation remain unknown. Here, we employed tissue-engineered models of complete versus impaired epidermal stratification to discover the genes that may be important in this process. Transcriptional profiling at different stages of development showed significant differences in transcription, signaling, and most important metabolism-associated genes between fully stratified and poorly stratified epithelia. These transcriptional changes correlated well with functional data on cell proliferation, expression of adhesion molecules, and utilization of metabolic pathways, ultimately leading to different phenotypes. Our data identified genes that were not previously known to play a role in epidermis and established a link between metabolism and morphogenesis in skin epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / genetics
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Skin, Artificial
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Oxidoreductases