Expression of cornifin in squamous differentiating epithelial tissues, including psoriatic and retinoic acid-treated skin

Wataru Fujimoto, Keith W. Marvin, Margaret D. George, Giulia Celli, Nadine Darwiche, Luigi M. De Luca, Anton M. Jetten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The expression of cornifin, a putative cross-linked envelope precursor, was investigated in several squamous differentiating tissues by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis. Cornifin mRNA and protein, which are absent in the normal mucociliary tracheal epithelium, are induced in the suprabasal layers of the squamous metaplastic tracheal epithelium of vitamin A deficient hamsters. Similar to the induction of squamous metaplasia in vivo, culture of rabbit tracheal cells in the absence of retinoids results in squamous differentiation and expression of cornifin. This induction of cornifin expression is suppressed by retinoic acid and several of its analogs. Cornifin mRNA and protein are also detected in the suprabasal layers of the squamous epithelium of rabbit esophagus and tongue. The distribution of cornifin in human epidermis was compared with that of two other crosslinked envelope precursor proteins, involucrin and loricrin. The localization of cornifin and involucrin is very similar. Both are induced in the spinous layer and appear at an earlier stage during epidermal differentiation than loricrin. The expression of cornifin is greatly increased in psoriatic skin. Cornifin mRNA is barely detectable in normal epidermis, whereas it is present at relatively high levels in the suprabasal layers of psoriatic epidermis. Topical treatment with RA results in thickening of the skin and increases the level of cornifin mRNA and protein in the upper spinous layers of mouse skin. Cornifin expression correlates generally with squamous differentiation in a variety of tissues and is abnormally regulated in psoriatic skin and in skin treated topically with retinoic acid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Involucrin
  • crosslinked envelope
  • loricrin
  • trachea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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