Human skin is a well known target site of inorganic arsenic with effects ranging from hyperkeratosis to dermal malignancies. The current study characterizes the expression of a protein known to bind inorganic, As3+, metallothionein 3 (MT-3). Expression of this protein was assessed immunohistochemically with a specific MT-3 antibody on human formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded biopsy specimens in normal skin, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and melanoma. Assessment in normal skin using nine normal specimens showed moderate to intense MT-3 staining in epidermal karatinocytes with staining extending into the basal cells and moderate to intense staining in melanocytes of nevi. MT-3 immunoexpression was shown to be moderate to intense in 12 of 13 of SCC, low to moderate in 8 of 10 BCC, and moderate to intense in 12 melanoma samples. MT-3 expression in cell culture models (normal human epidermal keratinocytes, normal human melanocytes, and HaCaT cells) showed only trace expression of MT-3, while exposures to the histone deacytalase inhibitor, MS-275, partially restored expression levels. These results indicate that the epidermis of human skin and resulting malignancies express high level of MT-3 and potentially impact on the known association of arsenic exposure and the development of skin disorders and related cancers.
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Slusser, Andrea; Zheng, Yun; Zhou, Xudong; Somji, Seema; Sens, Donald; Sens, Mary Ann; and Garrett, Scott H., "Metallothionein Isoform 3 Expression in Human Skin, Related Cancers, and Human Skin Derived Cell Cultures" (2014). Pathology Faculty Publications. 2.