Different properties of three isoforms (α, β, and γ) of transcription factor AP-2 in the expression of human keratinocyte genes

Noritaka Oyama, Hidetoshi Takahashi, Michiko Tojo, Keiji Iwatsuki, Hajime Iizuka, Koichiro Nakamura, Yoshimi Homma, Fumio Kaneko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The transcription factor AP-2/promoter system is essential for gene expression associated with ectodermal development, particularly in the neural crest and skin. Three AP-2 isoforms, α, β, and γ, exhibit a highly homologous structure, but their functions are considered to be different. Here, we report on the role of each AP-2 isoform in complex keratinocyte biology including proliferation, differentiation, and carcinogenesis. The expression of AP-2 was investigated immunohistochemically in serial skin sections from normal and psoriatic skin, and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). AP-2α was present only in the nuclei of normal basal keratinocytes, but was significantly increased in lesional proliferating keratinocytes of both diseases. AP-2β was completely absent from all skin samples except dermal sweat glands, whereas AP-2γ was present homogeneously throughout the epidermis in normal and psoriatic skin as well as in the SCC lesion. Their restricted expression patterns correlated with in vitro DNA binding assays using selective keratinocyte gene promoters and three recombinant AP-2 isoforms generated bacterially as glutathione S-transferase fusion protein. Epidermal growth factor receptor and basal keratin K14 promoters bound to AP-2α and AP-2γ with similar affinities, whereas suprabasal keratin K1, type I transglutaminase, and involucrin promoters predominantly bound to AP-2γ rather than AP-2α. In contrast, AP-2β did not bind to any of the five promoters despite specific binding to the AP-2 consensus probe. These results suggest that AP-2α is closely associated with keratinocyte proliferation and/or carcinogenesis rather than differentiation, while AP-2γ is ubiquitous in all stages of keratinocyte biology. Taken together, three AP-2 isoforms perform unique roles in the spatial and temporal expression of human keratinocyte-related genes, thereby maintaining epidermal homeostasis. Disruption of the epidermal AP-2 balance may contribute to hyperproliferative conditions, such as psoriasis and SCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Epidermal homeostasis
  • Gene activation
  • Psoriasis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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