The expression of keratinocyte growth factor receptor (FGFR2-IIIb) correlates with the high proliferative rate of HaCaT keratinocytes

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Keratinocyte growth factor receptor (KGFR = FGFR2-IIIb) is a tyrosine kinase receptor expressed by keratinocytes, which mediates the effects of fibroblast growth factors (FGF). There are contradictory data in the literature regarding the role of FGFR2-IIIb during the proliferation/differentiation programme of keratinocytes. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether overexpression of FGFR2-IIIb may have a role in the regulation of keratinocyte proliferation. We analysed the expression of FGFR2-IIIb in an in vitro HaCaT model system representing different stages of proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes. Real-time RT-PCR and Western blot analyses demonstrated a correlation between FGFR2-IIIb mRNA and protein expression and the proportion of cells in S/G2/M phase in synchronized HaCaT keratinocytes and thus with proliferation activity (r = 0.96). After treatment with the antipsoriatic drug, dithranol, FGFR2-IIIb is downregulated dose dependently both at mRNA and protein levels. Moreover, when the rate of proliferation is decreased by the lack of cell attachment to the culturing surface, FGFR2-IIIb mRNA (P = 0.0315) and protein expressions were also reduced (P = 0.0242), while a differentiation marker, keratin 10, mRNA (P = 0.0003) and protein levels (P = 0.001) were increased (r = −0.92). Based on our results we conclude that FGFR2-IIIb expression in HaCaT keratinocytes corresponds with the proliferative activation of the cells and is not related to the differentiation programme.

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