Extracellularly Extruded Syntaxin-4 Is a Potent Cornification Regulator of Epidermal Keratinocytes

Mol Med. 2015 Jan 14;21(1):77-86. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2014.00234.


In the skin epidermis, keratinocytes undergo anchorage-dependent cornification, which gives rise to stratified multilayers, each with a distinct differentiation feature. The active formation of the cornified cell envelope (CCE), an important element in the skin barrier, occurs in keratinocytes of the upper epidermal layers and impacts their terminal differentiation. In the present study, we identified the extracellularly extruded syntaxin-4 as a potent differentiation regulator of epidermal keratinocytes. We found that differentiation stimuli led to the acceleration of syntaxin-4 exposure at the keratinocyte cell surface and that the artificial control of extracellular syntaxin-4, either by the forced expression of several syntaxin-4 mutants with structural alterations at the putative functional core site (AIEPQK), or by using antagonistic circular peptides containing this core sequence, dramatically influenced the CCE formation, with spatial misexpression of TGase1 and involucrin. We also found that the topical application of a peptide that exerted the most prominent antagonistic activity for syntaxin-4, named ST4n1, evidently prevented the formation of the hyperplastic and hyperkeratotic epidermis generated by physical irritation in HR-1 mice skin. Collectively, these results demonstrate that extracellularly extruded syntaxin-4 is a potent regulator of CCE differentiation, and that ST4n1 has potential as a clinically applicable reagent for keratotic skin lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Space
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Protein Transport
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / genetics
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transglutaminases / metabolism


  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • Transglutaminases
  • transglutaminase 1