Why regeneration does not occur in mammals remains elusive. In lower vertebrates, epimorphic regeneration of the limb is directed by the wound epidermis, which controls blastema formation to promote regrowth of the appendage. Herein, we report that knockout (KO) or inhibition of Apoptosis Signal-regulated Kinase-1 (ASK1), also known as mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 5 (MAP3K5), after full thickness ear punch in mice prolongs keratinocyte activation within the wound epidermis and promotes regeneration of auricular cartilage. Histological analysis showed the ASK1 KO ears displayed enhanced protein markers associated with blastema formation, hole closure and regeneration of auricular cartilage. At seven days after punch, the wound epidermis morphology was markedly different in the KO, showing a thickened stratum corneum with rounded cell morphology and a reduction of both the granular cell layer and decreased expression of filament aggregating protein. In addition, cytokeratin 6 was expressed in the stratum spinosum and granulosum. Topical application of inhibitors of ASK1 (NQDI-1), the upstream ASK1 activator, calcium activated mitogen kinase 2 (KN93), or the downstream target, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (SP600125) also resulted in enhanced regeneration; whereas inhibition of the other downstream target, the p38 α/β isoforms, (SB203580) had no effect. The results of this investigation indicate ASK1 inhibition prolongs keratinocyte and blastemal cell activation leading to ear regeneration.
Zhang, Qian-Shi; Kurpad, Deepa S.; Mahoney, My G.; Steinbeck, Marla J.; and Freeman, Theresa A., "Inhibition of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 alters the wound epidermis and enhances auricular cartilage regeneration." (2017). Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Faculty Papers. Paper 100.
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