The transcription factor “Kruppel-like factor 4” (KLF4) is a central player in the field of pluripotent stem cell biology. In particular, it was put under the spotlight as one of the four factors of the cocktail originally described for reprogramming into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In contrast, its possible functions in native tissue stem cells remain largely unexplored. We recently published that KLF4 is a regulator of “stemness” in human keratinocytes. We show that reducing the level of expression of this transcription factor by RNA interference or pharmacological repression promotes the ex vivo amplification and regenerative capacity of two types of cells of interest for cutaneous cell therapy: native keratinocyte stem and progenitor cells from adult epidermis, which have been used for more than three decades in skin graft bioengineering, and keratinocytes generated by the lineage-oriented differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which have potential for the development of skin bio-bandages. At the mechanistic level, KLF4
repression alters the expression of a large set of genes involved in TGF-β1 and WNT signaling pathways. Major regulators of TGF-β bioavailability and different TGF-β receptors were targeted, notably modulating the ALK1/Smad1/5/9 axis. At a functional level, KLF4
repression produced an antagonist effect on TGF-β1-induced keratinocyte differentiation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited