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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The functional diversity of epidermal keratins revealed by the partial rescue of the keratin 14 null phenotype by keratin 16.

The type I epidermal keratins K14 and K16 are remarkably similar at the primary sequence level. While a structural function has been clearly defined for K14, we have proposed that a function of K16 may be to play a role in the process of keratinocyte activation that occurs after acute injury to stratified epithelia. To compare directly the functions of the two keratins we have targeted the expression of the human K16 cDNA to the progenitor basal layer of the epidermis of K14 null mice. Mice null for K14 blister extensively and die approximately 2 d after birth (Lloyd, C., Q.C. Yu, J. Cheng, K. Turksen, L. Degenstein, E. Hutton, and E. Fuchs. 1995. J. Cell Biol. 129:1329-1344). The skin of mice expressing K16 in the absence of K14 developed normally without evidence of blistering. However, as the mice aged they featured extensive alopecia, chronic epidermal ulcers in areas of frequent physical contact, and alterations in other stratified epithelia. Mice expressing a control K16-C14 cDNA also rescue the blistering phenotype of the K14 null mice with only a small percentage exhibiting minor alopecia. While K16 is capable of rescuing the blistering, phenotypic complementation in the resulting skin is incomplete due to the multiple age dependent anomalies. Despite their high sequence similarity, K16 and K14 are not functionally equivalent in the epidermis and other stratified epithelia and it is primarily the carboxy-terminal approximately 105 amino acids of K16 that define these differences.[1]


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