Molecular Biomarker Discovery in Aging and Injury Repair of Skin

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Simone Smith, Biology, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University



Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


The flexibility of cells to change their protein expression is critical in development, maturation, aging, and disease. The functional differences between young and old skin are known, but it is not clear what biomolecularly characterizes these two groups and how we can harness molecular orchestrators of “youth” or “regeneration” to better heal tissue wounds. In this study, we aim to use an objective method to find novel candidates for superior wound healing, and to investigate the orchestrators of the regenerative capacity typical of young animals. Our central hypothesis is that young, regenerative (here, post-natal day 1, P1) skin will have unique, identifiable protein profiles compared to mature, reparative (here, 6- month-old, M6) skin. We tested this hypothesis using a proteomic study design. In brief, we generated denaturing extracts of dorsal skin from the two groups of mice. Extracts were then subjected to proteomic identification using Mass Spectrometry. We analyzed the resulting data via in silico annotations to classify identified proteins into various physiological categories. We hypothesized that molecules critical to development would be those upregulated in P1 and would give insight into novel regenerative players. We found that cell adhesion proteins previously not known to be decreased with age were increased in young versus mature skin, as were proteins that controlled cell proliferation, migration, and cell junctions. Our findings will impact the field of wound healing by spurring nano-delivery, topical treatment, placement in implanted scaffolds, or even depletion of our discovered biomarkers to aid wound therapy in connective tissues. Future studies will examine the therapeutic impact of these integrins and fibronectin oninjured connective tissue.

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