Journal of cell science

Clasp2 ensures mitotic fidelity and prevents differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes.

PMID 28069833


Epidermal homeostasis is tightly controlled by a balancing act of self-renewal or terminal differentiation of proliferating basal keratinocytes. An increase in DNA content as a consequence of a mitotic block is a recognized mechanism underlying keratinocyte differentiation, but the molecular mechanisms involved in this process are not yet fully understood. Using cultured primary keratinocytes, here we report that the expression of the mammalian microtubule and kinetochore-associated protein Clasp2 is intimately associated with the basal proliferative makeup of keratinocytes, and its deficiency leads to premature differentiation. Clasp2-deficient keratinocytes exhibit increased centrosomal numbers and numerous mitotic alterations, including multipolar spindles and chromosomal misalignments that overall result in mitotic stress and a high DNA content. Such mitotic block prompts premature keratinocyte differentiation in a p53-dependent manner in the absence of cell death. Our findings reveal a new role for Clasp2 in governing keratinocyte undifferentiated features and highlight the presence of surveillance mechanisms that prevent cell cycle entry in cells that have alterations in the DNA content.