Distinct functional interactions of human Skn-1 isoforms with Ese-1 during keratinocyte terminal differentiation.
Among the three major POU proteins expressed in human skin, Oct-1, Tst-1/Oct-6, and Skn-1/Oct-11, only the latter induced SPRR2A, a marker of keratinocyte terminal differentiation. In this study, we have identified three Skn-1 isoforms, which encode proteins with various N termini, generated by alternative promoter usage. These isotypes showed distinct expression patterns in various skin samples, internal squamous epithelia, and cultured human keratinocytes. Skn-1a and Skn-1d1 bound the SPRR2A octamer site with comparable affinity and functioned as transcriptional activators. Skn-1d2 did not affect SPRR2A expression. Skn-1a, the largest protein, functionally cooperated with Ese-1/Elf-3, an epithelial-specific transcription factor, previously implicated in SPRR2A induction. This cooperativity, which depended on an N-terminal pointed-like domain in Skn-1a, was not found for Skn-1d1. Actually, Skn-1d1 counteracted the cooperativity between Skn-1a and Ese-1. Apparently, the human Skn-1 locus encodes multifunctional protein isotypes, subjected to biochemical cross-talk, which are likely to play a major role in the fine-tuning of keratinocyte terminal differentiation.