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The epidermis of skin is the first line of defense against the environment. A three dimensional model of human skin was used to investigate tissue-specific phenotypes induced by the environmental contaminant, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Continuous treatment of organotypic cultures of human keratinocytes with TCDD resulted in intracellular spaces between keratinocytes of the basal and immediately suprabasal layers as well as thinning of the basement membrane, in addition to the previously reported hyperkeratinization. These tissue remodeling events were preceded temporally by changes in expression of the extracellular matrix degrading enzyme, matrix metalloproteinase-10 (MMP-10). In organotypic cultures MMP-10 mRNA and protein were highly induced following TCDD treatment. Q-PCR and immunoblot results from TCDD-treated monolayer cultures, as well as indirect immunofluorescence and immunoblot analysis of TCDD-treated organotypic cultures, showed that MMP-10 was specifically contributed by the epidermal keratinocytes but not the dermal fibroblasts. Keratinocyte-derived MMP-10 protein accumulated over time in the dermal compartment of organotypic cultures. TCDD-induced epidermal phenotypes in organotypic cultures were attenuated by the keratinocyte-specific expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, a known inhibitor of MMP-10. These studies suggest that MMP-10 and possibly other MMP-10-activated MMPs are responsible for the phenotypes exhibited in the basement membrane, the basal keratinocyte layer, and the cornified layer of TCDD-treated organotypic cultures. Our studies reveal a novel mechanism by which the epithelial–stromal microenvironment is altered in a tissue-specific manner thereby inducing structural and functional pathology in the interfollicular epidermis of human skin.TCDD causes hyperkeratosis and basement membrane changes in a model of human skin.TCDD induces MMP-10 expression in organotypic cultures of human keratinocytes.Keratinocyte-expressed MMP-10 accumulates in the dermal compartment.Keratinocyte K14 promoter-driven TIMP-1 expression ablates TCDD-induced phenotypes.