CD109 is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored glycoprotein that is highly expressed in several types of human cancers, particularly squamous cell carcinomas. We previously reported that CD109-deficient mice exhibit epidermal hyperplasia and chronic skin inflammation. Although we found that CD109 regulates differentiation of keratinocytes in vivo, the function of CD109 in tumorigenesis remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the role of CD109 in skin tumorigenesis using a twostage carcinogenesis model in CD109-deficient mice with chronic skin inflammation. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a higher level of TGF-β protein expression in the dermis of CD109-deficient mice than in that of wild-type mice. Additionally, immunofluorescence analysis showed that Smad2 phosphorylation and Nrf2 expression were enhanced in primary keratinocytes from CD109-deficient mice compared with in those from wild-type mice. Although no significant difference was found in conversion rates from papilloma to carcinoma between wild-type and CD109- deficient mice in the carcinogenesis model, we observed fewer and smaller papillomas in CD109-deficient mice than in wild-type mice. Apoptosis and DNA damage marker levels were significantly reduced in CD109-deficient skin compared with in wildtype skin at 24 h after 7, 12-dimethylbenz (α) anthracene treatment. Furthermore, mutation-specific PCR revealed that the mutation frequency of the H-ras gene was less in CD109-deficient skin than in wild-type skin in this model. These results suggest that CD109 deficiency suppresses skin tumorigenesis by enhancing TGF-β/Smad/Nrf2 pathway activity and decreasing the mutation frequency of the H-ras gene.
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