Green tea polyphenol stimulates a Ras, MEKK1, MEK3, and p38 cascade to increase activator protein 1 factor-dependent involucrin gene expression in normal human keratinocytes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of biological chemistry








(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is an important bioactive constituent of green tea that efficiently reduces epidermal cancer cell proliferation. This inhibition is associated with a reduction in activator protein 1 (AP1) transcription factor level and activity. However, its effects on AP1 function in normal epidermal cells have not been extensively explored. Our present studies show that EGCG regulates normal keratinocyte function. To understand the mechanism of action, we examined the effects of EGCG on AP1 factor activity, MAPK signal transduction, and expression of the AP1 factor-regulated human involucrin (hINV) gene. EGCG increases hINV promoter activity in a concentration-dependent manner that requires the presence of an intact hINV promoter AP1 factor binding site. This response appears to be physiologic, as endogenous hINV gene expression is also increased. Fra-1, Fra-2, FosB, JunB, JunD, c-Jun, and c-Fos levels are increased by EGCG treatment, as is AP1 factor binding to hINV promoter AP1 site. Gel mobility shift studies show that this complex contains Fra-1 and JunD. Signal transduction analysis indicates that the EGCG response requires Ras, MEKK1, MEK3, and p38 kinases. Kinase assays and inhibitor studies suggest that p38delta is the p38 isoform responsible for the regulation. These changes are also associated with a cessation of cell proliferation and enhanced cornified envelope formation. These studies show that in normal human keratinocytes EGCG markedly increases, via a MAPK signaling mechanism, AP1 factor-associated responses.

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