Epidermis consists of multiple layers of keratinocytes, which differentiate and produce a permeability barrier that provides protection against environmental insults. Extracellular calcium (Ca2+o) is essential for initiating keratinocyte differentiation and maintaining epidermal functions. Elevating Ca2+o concentration triggers an increase in the level of intracellular free Ca2+ (Ca2+i) and induces cell-cell adhesion, two key signaling events promoting keratinocyte differentiation. The increased Ca2+i level is due to Ca2+ release from internal stores and Ca2+ influx through channels in the plasma membrane. Raising Ca2+o also induces E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion by activating Rho A GTPase and Src/Fyn tyrosine kinase signaling pathways. The E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion recruits and activates PI3K, an important regulator for cell survival and differentiation. The mechanisms transducing Ca2+o signals to cellular responses in keratinocytes have not been defined. The Ca2+-sensing receptor (CaR), a G-protein-coupled receptor, is expressed in keratinocytes. The CaR not only localizes on the cell membrane to detect changes in Ca2+o, but also forms a protein complex with modulators of Ca2+i stores and store-operated channels (SOC), including IP3R, PLC31 and a Ca2+-ATPase SPCA1 in the Golgi, which is a major Ca2+I reservoir in keratinocytes. Inhibition of CaR expression in vitro markedly suppresses Ca2+i responses to Ca2+o by reducing Ca2+i pools and blocks E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion, leading to impaired cell differentiation. It is likely that the CaR conveys Ca2+o signals to activate downstream cellular responses by interacting with other signaling effectors such as G1, Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RhoGEF) and filamin. To determine whether the CaR is responsible for sensing Ca2+o by keratinocytes in vivo, we generated keratinocyte-specific CaR knockout mice,EpidCaR-/-, by Cre-lox recombination. The epidermis of these mice manifest a loss of Ca2+ gradient, decreased production of lamellar bodies and cornified envelope, reduced expression of differentiation markers, and impaired permeability barrier functions. Keratinocytes from this mouse also display abnormal Ca2+I responses to Ca2+o and defective cell-cell adhesion. These data strongly support a role for the CaR in epidermal development. We will use this model and a well-established cell culture system to address the Hypothesis that the CaR mediates Ca2+o-induced keratinocyte differentiation by modulating Ca2+i signaling through direct interactions with molecules regulating Ca2+i stores and SOCs, and by promoting cell-cell adhesion via the activation of E-cadherin/PI3K pathway through Rho-dependent Src/Fyn signaling cascade. We propose the following Specific Aims: (1) to determine the role of CaR in mediating Ca2+o-induced differentiation and in regulating Ca2+i stores;(2) to determine the role of CaR in regulating E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and activation of PI3K;(3) to determine the role of CaR- coupling proteins G1, RhoGEF and filamin A in Ca2+o-induced Ca2+i mobilization, E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and keratinocyte differentiation. Our studies will greatly advance our knowledge of the Ca2+ signaling mechanisms that promote epidermal development and understanding of pathogenesis of skin disorders manifesting abnormal keratinocyte differentiation.

Public Health Relevance

Ca2+ plays a critical role in controlling the growth, differentiation, and barrier function in skin cells by acting on a calcium-sensing receptor (CaR). This proposal will investigate how Ca2+ initiates skin cell differentiation and how the CaR mediates this process. Successful completion of this project will greatly advance our knowledge of skin cell differentiation and help understanding the pathogenesis of various skin disorders manifesting abnormal differentiation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MOSS-A (02))
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Baker, Carl
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Northern California Institute Research & Education
San Francisco
United States
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Oda, Yuko; Hu, Lizhi; Nguyen, Thai et al. (2017) Combined Deletion of the Vitamin D Receptor and Calcium-Sensing Receptor Delays Wound Re-epithelialization. Endocrinology 158:1929-1938
Tu, Chia-Ling; You, Michael (2014) Obligatory roles of filamin A in E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion in epidermal keratinocytes. J Dermatol Sci 73:142-51
Tu, Chia-Ling; Bikle, Daniel D (2013) Role of the calcium-sensing receptor in calcium regulation of epidermal differentiation and function. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 27:415-27
Cheng, Zhiqiang; Liang, Nathan; Chen, Tsui-Hua et al. (2013) Sex and age modify biochemical and skeletal manifestations of chronic hyperparathyroidism by altering target organ responses to Ca2+ and parathyroid hormone in mice. J Bone Miner Res 28:1087-100
Tu, Chia-Ling; Crumrine, Debra A; Man, Mao-Qiang et al. (2012) Ablation of the calcium-sensing receptor in keratinocytes impairs epidermal differentiation and barrier function. J Invest Dermatol 132:2350-2359
Tu, Chia-Ling; Chang, Wenhan; Bikle, Daniel D (2011) The calcium-sensing receptor-dependent regulation of cell-cell adhesion and keratinocyte differentiation requires Rho and filamin A. J Invest Dermatol 131:1119-28