The tetraspanin CD151 forms complexes in epithelial cell membranes with laminin-binding integrins α6β4, α3β1, and α6β1, and modifies integrin-mediated cell migration in vitro. We demonstrate in this study that CD151 expression is upregulated in a distinct temporal and spatial pattern during wound healing, particularly in the migrating epidermal tongue at the wound edge, suggesting a role for CD151 in keratinocyte migration. We show that healing is significantly impaired in CD151-null mice, with wounds gaping wider at 7 days post-injury. The rate of re-epithelialization of the CD151-null wounds is adversely affected, with significantly less wound area being covered by migrating epidermal cells. Our studies reveal that although laminin levels are similar in wild-type and CD151-null wounds, the organization of the laminin in the basement membrane is impaired. Furthermore, upregulation of α6 and β4 integrin expression is adversely affected in CD151-null mice wounds. In contrast, we find no significant effect of CD151 gene knockout on α3 and β1 integrin expression in wound repair. We suggest that mice lacking the CD151 gene are defective in wound healing, primarily owing to impairment of the re-epithelialization process. This may be due to defective basement membrane formation and epithelial cell adhesion and migration.
Journal of Investigative Dermatology Vol. 126, Issue 3, p. 680-689