Functional contribution of keratinocytes to skin homeostasis and pain
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Skin is the largest organ of human body and serves a variety of functions such as protection, absorption, production of biologically useful substances, and sensation. Keratinocytes are the largest population of cells in the skin. Although there has been much progress in understanding the fundamental biology of keratinocytes with respect to their proliferation and differentiation, we know little about how keratinocytes contribute to the sensory functions of the skin. In this study, we therefore examined how keratinocytes contribute to the sensory function of skin in both physiological and pathological conditions. By stimulating TRPV1 molecules expressed ectopically in keratinocytes, we have confirmed that acute keratinocyte stimulation can directly signal to neurons to generate pain responses in mice. Another interesting characteristic of keratinocytes is the endogenous expression of several TRP channels, which are traditionally known to possess sensory functions. We characterized the effect of TRPV1 overexpression in keratinocytes. We found that this transgenic maneuver leads to an obvious hyperplastic and pro-inflammatory change of the epidermis. Overall this thesis research revealed several new functions of keratinocytes to skin sensation and epidermal homeostasis.