Survivin: A dual player in healthy and diseased skin

Katiuscia Dallaglio, Alessandra Marconi, Carlo Pincelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Survivin belongs to the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) protein family, and, in addition to the antiapoptotic functions, it also regulates the cell cycle. The survivin gene generates five major isoforms with diverse and opposite functions. Survivin is highly expressed in cancer and in few normal adult tissues, including skin. It is mostly detected in the nucleus of keratinocyte stem cells (KSCs), but it is also expressed in melanocytes and fibroblasts. Survivin isoforms are differentially detected in subpopulations of human keratinocytes, exerting contrasting activities. Survivin has an important role in the regulation of cell cycle in keratinocytes, and it protects these cells from anoikis and UV-induced apoptosis. In melanoma, survivin is abundantly expressed, and its subcellular localization varies depending upon tumor thickness and invasiveness. Survivin overexpression has been shown in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and it is also involved in UVB-induced carcinogenesis. The presence of survivin both in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm throughout the epidermal layers of psoriatic lesions suggests the involvement of this protein in the keratinocyte alterations typical of this disease. Additional studies on the expression of survivin isoforms and their subcellular localization in relation to function will confirm the key role of survivin in the skin and will open the field to new therapeutic strategies for many cutaneous conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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