How to make a protein that can grow into a human skin cell
How to grow skin from scratch article Growing skin from a powder is a challenging proposition.
And there are a number of factors that make it difficult.
But a team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University College London have now shown that the key to making a human keratin cell from scratch is a unique protein structure.
Their findings are published in the journal Science.
The scientists developed a new protein structure that allows the protein to be grown in vitro without requiring special tools.
The structure of the protein can be changed to allow the cells to form more complex shapes that are more easily incorporated into the skin.
The research was led by Dr Robert Koeppel, Professor of Chemistry at the university, and Dr Michael J. Wilson, an associate professor of chemical biology at the College of Engineering and Technology at the London School of Economics.
“This is a novel protein structure in which the structural modification of the cytoplasm and nucleus allows the cell to grow in the absence of a specialised scaffold,” he said.
“Our approach provides a scaffold that allows a cell to form complex, morphologically defined structures with a wide range of possible applications in the skin and the human body.”
The researchers have now developed a model of skin cells that has a similar structure to the human skin.
“The protein scaffold we developed allows cells to be easily grown without specialised tools and has the potential to lead to more complex skin structures,” Dr Koeppelt said.
The new structure could be used in other applications such as growing skin tissue for the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis, psoriniosis and psorostomy, or in other areas where there is a need for cells to remain stable for longer.
“It also allows cells in the body to grow into complex skin shapes that can be easily integrated into the cells themselves,” Dr Wilson said.
“Our work is exciting because this could open up new possibilities for the production of human skin cells in a way that we have not seen before.”
The new study also provides insight into the complex nature of keratin.
“In the keratin we know that there is an important structure called the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which binds to the ERK [Endogenous Recombinant Protein Kinase],” Dr Kueppel said.
“These receptors are important in keratin’s function in the cell’s signalling and differentiation, and also in the formation of keratins in the blood.”
“These receptors can be expressed in a number different forms and have diverse roles in keratin production.”
One of the important roles of the receptor is to enable the synthesis of keratalin [an epidermis-like protein], which is a protein produced in the dermis.
“We show that the protein structure of keracyclin (the protein that forms the skin barrier) has a unique structure which allows it to form keratin from scratch.”
Dr Wilson said the structure of this protein has the ability to grow and form complex structures with different shapes and sizes.
“There is a possibility that it can be used to create skin in a similar way to the keratines we have grown in the lab,” he added.
The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Australia (NSERC), and was supported by the Human Frontier Science Program.