Migration of epidermal keratinocytes: mechanisms, regulation, and biological significance

  • Kirfel G
  • Herzog V
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Keratinocytes are the prevalent cell type of the epidermis, a multilayered cornified epithelium which provides the cellular basis of the outermost barrier between the organism and its environment. By this bar-rier function the epidermis protects the organism against a variety of envi-ronmental hazards such as dehydration and mechanical stress. Under normal conditions, keratinocytes of all layers are interconnected by desmosomes and anchored by hemidesmosomes to a specialised type of extracellular matrix, the basement membrane. When the epidermis is in-jured, a vitally important response is initiated with the aim to restore the protective function of the epithelium. A fast but provisional sealing is achieved by the deposition of the fibrin clot before within 24 h after wounding keratinocytes from the wound margins begin to migrate into the wound bed, where they start to proliferate and to form the new epithe-lium. The development of new high-resolution assays for the study of cell migration and motility has potentiated major progress in our understand-ing of keratinocyte migration in vitro and in situ. The data reviewed here point to a sophisticated cooperation between soluble motogenic growth factors, cell–matrix interactions, and cell-to-cell communications as ma-jor parts of the machinery regulating keratinocyte migration.

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  • G. Kirfel

  • V. Herzog

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