The epidermis: genes on - genes off

J Invest Dermatol. 1997 Oct;109(4):501-9. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12336477.


The epidermal keratinocyte stem cell is distinguished by a relatively undifferentiated phenotype and an ability to proliferate. As part of a carefully orchestrated process, the offspring of these stem cells lose the ability to proliferate and begin a process of morphologic and biochemical transformation that results in their conversion into corneocytes. This process requires the coordinated expression of a host of cellular genes. The mechanisms responsible for regulation of these genes is an area of intense interest. In keratinocytes, as in other cell types, the expression of most genes is regulated at the transcriptional level by a class of proteins called transcription factors. Transcription factors are nuclear proteins that regulate transcription by mediating the final steps in the relay of information from the cell surface to the nucleus and the gene. These factors bind to specific DNA sequence elements located within the target gene. In this brief review we summarize evidence implicating activator protein 1 (AP1), AP2, Sp1, POU domain, CCAAT enhancer binding protein, and several other transcription factors as regulators of expression of keratinocyte genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Suppression, Genetic
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Transcription Factors