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J Invest Dermatol. 2007 May;127(5):1175-86. Epub 2006 Dec 7.

A functional enhancer of keratin14 is a direct transcriptional target of deltaNp63.

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Department of Biochemistry, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14214, USA.


Keratin14 (K14) is a prototypic marker of dividing basal keratinocytes where its gene is transcribed at high levels. Transcriptional regulation of K14 is governed by an evolutionarily conserved functional enhancer marked by DNase 1 hypersensitive sites present upstream of the gene. This enhancer is sufficient to confer epidermal-specific gene expression, which is mediated in part by binding of members of activator protein-2 (AP)-2, AP-1, Ets, and Sp1 families of transcription factors. Here we provide evidence that a keratinocyte-specific nuclear protein identified as deltaNp63 binds to a conserved motif within this enhancer. Interestingly, the selective expression profile of deltaNp63 in various cell lines correlates with both the nuclear complex and the expression of K14. Biochemical studies reveal that deltaNp63 can bind to a specific DNA sequence present in the K14 enhancer and this binding leads to transactivation. In addition, chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments with deltaNp63-specific antibodies demonstrate that the enhancer is occupied by deltaNp63 in cultured keratinocytes and in mouse skin epidermal cells in vivo. Finally, we show that ectopic expression of either p63 isoform (deltaN or TA) can induce de novo expression of K14. These studies provide a potential mechanism by which deltaNp63 directly governs the expression of K14 in a keratinocyte-specific manner.

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