Contributions of nitric oxide to AHR-ligand-mediated keratinocyte differentiation


Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) in normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) accelerates keratinocyte terminal differentiation through metabolic reprogramming and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Of the three NOS isoforms, NOS3 is significantly increased at both the RNA and protein levels by exposure to the very potent and selective ligand of the AHR, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Inhibition of NOS with the chemical N-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME) reversed TCDD-induced cornified envelope formation, an endpoint of terminal differentiation, as well as the expression of filaggrin (FLG), a marker of differentiation. Conversely, exposure to the NO-donor, S-nitroso-N-acetyl-DL-penicillamine (SNAP), increased the number of cornified envelopes above control levels and augmented the levels of cornified envelopes formed in response to TCDD treatment and increased the expression of FLG. This indicates that nitric oxide signaling can increase keratinocyte differentiation and that it is involved in the AHR-mediated acceleration of differentiation. As the nitrosylation of cysteines is a mechanism by which NO affects the structure and functions of proteins, the S-nitrosylation biotin switch technique was used to measure protein S-nitrosylation. Activation of the AHR increased the S-nitrosylation of two detected proteins of about 72 and 20 kD in size. These results provide new insights into the role of NO and protein nitrosylation in the process of epithelial cell differentiation, suggesting a role of NOS in metabolic reprogramming and the regulation of epithelial cell fate.

Publication Title

International Journal of Molecular Sciences