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Hösl, Christine; Röhrl, Jennifer M.; Schneider, Marlon R. and Dahlhoff, Maik (2018): The receptor tyrosine kinase ERBB4 is expressed in skin keratinocytes and influences epidermal proliferation. In: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-General Subjects, Vol. 1862, No. 4: pp. 958-966

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Background: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and associated receptors ERBB2 and ERBB3 are important for skin development and homeostasis. To date, ERBB4 could not be unambiguously identified in the epidermis. The aim of this study was to analyze the ERBB-receptor family with a special focus on ERBB4 in vitro in human keratinocytes and in vivo in human and murine epidermis. Methods: We compared the transcript levels of all ERBB-receptors and the seven EGFR-ligands in HaCaT and A431 cells. ERBB-receptor activity was analyzed after epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation by Western blot analysis. The location of the receptors was investigated by immunofluorescence in human keratinocytes and skin. Finally, we investigated the function of ERBB4 in the epidermis of skin-specific ERBB4-knockout mice. Results: After EGF stimulation, all ligands were upregulated except for epigen. Expression levels of EGFR were unchanged, but all other ERBB-receptors were down-regulated after EGF stimulation, although all ERBB-receptors were phosphorylated. We detected ERBB4 at mRNA and protein levels in both human epidermal cell lines and in the basal layer of human and murine epidermis. Skin-specific ERBB4-knockout mice revealed a significantly reduced epidermal thickness with a decreased proliferation rate. Conclusions: ERBB4 is expressed in the basal layer of human epidermis and cultured keratinocytes as well as in murine epidermis. Moreover, ERBB4 is phosphorylated in HaCaT cells due to EGF stimulation, and its deletion in murine epidermis affects skin thickness by decreasing proliferation. General significance: ERBB4 is expressed in human keratinocytes and plays a role in murine skin homeostasis.

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