Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MicroRNA-203 Helps Build Skin's Protective Barrier

Date:
March 12, 2008
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Every minute, 30,000 of our outermost skin cells die so that we can live. When they do, new cells migrate from the inner layer of the skin to the surface of it, where they form a tough protective barrier. In a series of elegant experiments in mice, researchers at Rockefeller University have now discovered a tiny RNA molecule that helps create this barrier. The results not only yield new insight into how skin first evolved, but also suggest how healthy cells can turn cancerous.

Showing skin. In the outer layer of the skin, microRNA-203 helps build a tough protective barrier by repressing the activity of a molecule called p63 (red). When microRNA-203 can't stem p63's activity, cells proliferate (bottom) -- findings that may reveal new insights about cancer.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rockefeller University

Every minute, 30,000 of our outermost skin cells die so that we can live. When they do, new cells migrate from the inner layer of the skin to the surface of it, where they form a tough protective barrier. In a series of elegant experiments in mice, researchers at Rockefeller University have now discovered a tiny RNA molecule that helps create this barrier. The results not only yield new insight into how skin first evolved, but also suggest how healthy cells can turn cancerous.

Related Articles


Hundreds of these tiny RNA molecules, called microRNAs, are expressed in skin, “But there was something curious about one in particular, microRNA-203,” says Rui Yi, a postdoc who works with Elaine Fuchs, head of the Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development. “As an embryo develops, the expression

Showing skin. In the outer layer of the skin, microRNA-203 helps build a tough protective barrier by repressing the activity of a molecule called p63 (red). When microRNA-203 can’t stem p63’s activity, cells proliferate (bottom) – findings that may reveal new insights about cancer.

of microRNA-203 jumps very quickly over just two days. From being barely detectable at day 13, this microRNA becomes the most abundant expressed in skin,” says Yi, whose work will be published online in Nature March 2. MicroRNAs, which were discovered in mammals in 2001, regulate genes outside of the cell’s nucleus.

Yi and Fuchs, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller, found that during the 13th day of development, mouse skin is primarily composed of undifferentiated stem cells. Two days later, these stem cells exit the inner layer of the skin and begin to differentiate into cells that form the outermost, protective layer. MicroRNA-203’s expression skyrockets precisely during this period, suggesting that it plays some key role in the barrier’s development.

In order to figure out its role, Yi and Fuchs needed to pinpoint exactly where microRNA-203 is expressed. Other microRNAs have been found to be specific to heart and muscle tissues; some exist almost exclusively in the brain. However, this microRNA was found only in very specific types of skin — stratified epithelial tissues, to be exact — and only in this skin type’s outer layers. What’s more, this expression pattern is identical to that found in humans, zebrafish, chickens and the like — in other words, vertebrates that evolved more than 400 million years apart.

“If it has been expressed in this very specific tissue for a long time and across several species, it means that it probably plays an important role there,” says Yi. To find out its function, Yi, in one set of experiments, used a genetic technique to precociously express microRNA in the inner layer of the skin, where stem cells proliferate at a fast clip. In a second set of experiments, he blocked microRNA-203 from functioning in the outer layer using an antagomir, a molecule that binds directly to microRNA-203 and shuts down its ability to carry out its function.

In the first set, he found that the stem cells proliferated significantly less than they did when microRNA-203 wasn’t expressed, and, as a result, the mice formed very thin skin — hardly a protective layer at all. The stem cells, the researchers saw, lost their ability to proliferate not because microRNA-203 killed them off but because it suppressed the activity of a molecule called p63, whose job is to keep cells, primarily stem cells, proliferating. In the second set of experiments, Yi found that the cells in the outer layer proliferated significantly more than they did when microRNA-203 was expressed. The reason: because microRNA-203 wasn’t available to shut down p63’s busy work.

“We found that microRNA-203 acts to stop the translation of the p63 protein,” says Fuchs. “The result is a swift transition from proliferating stem cells within the innermost layer of the epidermis and terminally differentiating cells as they exit this layer and move outward to the skin surface.”

The findings have intriguing implications for cancer, since p63 is found in excess in cancer cells. “As a next step, we are going to examine whether low expression of microRNA-203 is associated with squamous cell carcinomas,” says Fuchs, “and whether by putting back microRNA-203 we can inhibit the growth of these cancer cells.”

Journal reference: A skin microRNA promotes differentiation by repressing 'stemness.' Nature advance online publication 2 March 2008 | doi:10.1038/nature06642.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "MicroRNA-203 Helps Build Skin's Protective Barrier." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080307090229.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2008, March 12). MicroRNA-203 Helps Build Skin's Protective Barrier. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080307090229.htm
Rockefeller University. "MicroRNA-203 Helps Build Skin's Protective Barrier." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080307090229.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins