Objective: Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) proteins are involved in epithelial keratinization. The major function of latent TGF-β binding proteins (LTBPs) is modulating TGF-β activity. However, whether LTBP-1 and LTBP-2 play roles in gingiva keratinization remains unclear. Materials and Methods: Human keratinized gingiva and non-keratinized alveolar mucosa were processed for LTBP-1, LTBP-2, cytokeratin-1 (K1), cytokeratin-4 (K4), and TGF-β immunohistochemical (IHC) staining. Porcine heterotopically transplanted connective tissues and newly grown epithelia were harvested for IHC staining. The expression levels of LTBP-1 and LTBP-2 were compared between differentiated and undifferentiated human normal oral keratinocytes (hNOK). The expression of LTBP-1 and LTBP-2 was knocked down in a cell line (OEC-M1) to evaluate the effects on the expression of K1, K4, and involucrin (INV). Results: In human and porcine specimens, LTBP-2 expression patterns distinguished keratinized and non-keratinized oral epithelia. Western blotting results showed that K1, LTBP-1, and INV proteins were upregulated in differentiated hNOK. In OEC-M1 cells, LTBP-2 knockdown resulted in upregulated the expression of K1 and INV and downregulated the expression of K4. LTBP-1 knockdown resulted in opposite effects. Conclusion: The expression patterns of LTBP-2 differ in keratinized gingiva and non-keratinized mucosa. LTBP-1 and LTBP-2 are involved in the keratinization of oral epithelium; however, the underlying mechanism remains to be elucidated.
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