Kinetin is a kind of cytokinin, a class of plant hormone that promotes cell division. Kinetin was originally isolated by Miller and Skoog et al as a compound from autoclaved herring sperm DNA that had cell division-promoting activity. It was given the name kinetin because of its ability to induce cell division, provided that auxin was present in the medium. The story of the discovery of kinetin is a fascinating example of the twists and turns of scientific discovery. Kinetin is often used in plant tissue culture for inducing formation of callus (in conjunction with auxin) and to regenerate shoot tissues from callus (with lower auxin concentration).
For a long time it was believed that kinetin was an artifact produced from the deoxyadenosine residues in DNA, which degrade on standing for long periods or when heated during the isolation procedure. Therefore, it was thought that kinetin doesn't occur naturally, but since 1996 it has been shown by several researchers that kinetin exists naturally in the DNA of almost all organisms tested so far, including human cells, and various plants. The mechanism of production of kinetin in DNA is thought to be via the production of furfural - an oxidative damage product of deoxyribose sugar in DNA - and its quenching by the adenine base converting it into N6-furfuryladenine, kinetin.
Since 1994, kinetin has been thoroughly tested for its powerful anti-aging effects in human skin cells and other systems. At present, kinetin is one of the widely used components in numerous skin care cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, such as Valeant products kinerase. There are some reports published on other biological effects of kinetin in human beings, for example its effects as anti-platelet aggregation factor reducing thrombosis formation. Additionally, it has been shown to be capable of correcting RNA mis-splicing in the disease of familial dysautonomia, in which exon 20 of IKBKAP is skipped instead of included in the disease, leading to insufficient levels of IKBKAP protein product as a result of frame-shift induced nonsense-mediated decay.
J. van OVERBEEK (Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht) introduced in 1941 coconut milk as a new component of nutrient media for callus cultures. Coconut milk is liquid endosperm. In nature it stimulates the embryo to grow which it supplies at the same time with food. Results yielded from callus cultures showed that its active components stimulate the growth of foreign cells, too.
In 1954, F. Skoog (University of Wisconsin, Madison) developed a technique for the generation and culture of wound tumour tissue from isolated shoot parts of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The thus developing callus grows when supplied with yeast extract, coconut milk or old DNA preparations. Freshly prepared DNA has no effect but becomes effective after autoclaving. This led to the conclusion that one of its breakdown products is required for cell growth and division. The substance was characterized. It is called kinetin and has been classified as a phytohormone.
Kinetin is also claimed to have dermatologic effects and is used in some cosmetics.