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Essential role of integrin-linked kinase in regulation of phagocytosis in keratinocytes

Sayedyahossein, S;Nini, L;Irvine, TS;Dagnino, L;

Phagocytic melanosome uptake by epidermal keratinocytes is a central protective mechanism against damage induced by ultraviolet radiation. Phagocytosis requires formation of pseudopodia via actin cytoskeleton rearrangements. Integrin-linked kinase (ILK) is an important modulator of actin cytoskeletal dynamics. We have examined the role of ILK in regulation of phagocytosis, using epidermal keratinocytes isolated from mice with epidermis-restricted Ilk gene inactivation. ILK-deficient cells exhibited severely impaired capacity to engulf fluorescent microspheres in response to stimulation of the keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) receptor or the protease-activated receptor-2. KGF induced ERK phosphorylation in ILK-expressing and ILK-deficient cells, suggesting that ILK is not essential for KGF receptor signaling. In contrast, KGF promoted activation of Rac1 and formation of pseudopodia in ILK-expressing, but not in ILK-deficient cells. Rac1-deficient keratinocytes also showed substantially impaired phagocytic ability, underlining the importance of ILK-dependent Rac1 function for particle engulfment. Finally, cross-modulation of KGF receptors by integrins may be another important element, as integrin 1-deficient keratinocytes also fail to show significant phagocytosis in response to KGF. Thus, we have identified a novel signaling pathway essential for phagocytosis in keratinocytes, which involves ILK-dependent activation of Rac1 in response to KGF, resulting in the formation of pseudopodia and particle uptake.