[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Desmosomes are intercellular junctions specialised for strong adhesion that are prominent in the epidermis and heart muscle. Defective desmosomal function due to inherited mutations in the constitutive desmosomal gene desmoplakin (DSP) causes skin or heart disorders and in some instances both. Different mutations have different disease-causing molecular mechanisms as evidenced by the varying phenotypes resulting from mutations affecting different domains of the same protein, but the majority of these mechanisms remain to be determined. Here, we studied two mutations in DSP that lead to different dosages of the two major DSP splice variants, DSPI and DSPII, and compared their molecular mechanisms. One of the mutations results in total DSP haploinsufficiency and is associated with autosomal dominant striate palmoplantar keratoderma (PPK). The other leads to complete absence of DSPI and the minor isoform DSPIa but normal levels of DSPII, and is associated with autosomal recessive epidermolytic PPK, woolly hair and severe arrhythmogenic dilated cardiomyopathy. Using siRNA treatments to mimic these two mutations and additionally a DSPII-specific siRNA, we found striking differences between DSP isoforms with respect to keratinocyte adhesion upon cellular stress with DSPII being the key component in intermediate filament (IF) stability and desmosome-mediated adhesion. In addition, reduction in DSP expression reduced the amount of plakophilin 1, desmocollin (DSC) 2 and DSC3 with DSPI having a greater influence than DSPII on the expression levels of DSC3. These results suggest that the two major DSP splice variants are not completely redundant in function and that DSPII dosage is particularly important for desmosomal adhesion in the skin.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The expression of multiple connexin (Cx) types in the epidermis, their differential expression during wound closure and the association of skin pathology with specific Cx gene mutations, are indicative of important functions for Cxs in the skin. In this review, we focus on the role of Cx proteins in the epidermis and during wound healing and discuss mutations in Cx genes which cause skin disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: The Communicating junctions, composition, structure and characteristics.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The epidermis expresses a number of connexin (Cx) proteins that are implicated in gap junction-mediated cell communication. Distinct dominantly inherited mutations in Cx31 cause the skin disease erythrokeratoderma variabilis (EKV) and hearing loss with or without neuropathy. Functional studies reveal tissue-specific effects of these Cx31 disease-associated mutations. The Cx31 mutants (R42P)Cx31, (C86S)Cx31 and (G12D)Cx31 are associated with EKV and the mutant (66delD)Cx31 with peripheral neuropathy and hearing loss, however the mechanisms of pathogenesis remain to be elucidated. Expression of (R42P)Cx31, (C86S)Cx31 and (G12D)Cx31 in vitro, but not (WT)Cx31 or (66delD)Cx31, cause elevated levels of cell-type specific cell death. Previous studies suggest that Cx-associated cell death may be related to abnormal 'leaky' hemichannels but we produced direct evidence against that being the major mechanism. Additionally, our immunocytochemistry showed upregulation of components of the unfolded protein response (UPR) in cells expressing the EKV-associated Cx31 mutants but not (WT)Cx31 or (66delD)Cx31. We conclude that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress leading to the UPR is the main mechanism of mutant Cx31-associated cell death. These results indicate that, in vivo, ER stress may lead to abnormal keratinocyte differentiation and hyperproliferation in EKV patient skin.
Human Molecular Genetics 09/2009; 18(24):4734-45. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddp436 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the primary functions of skin is to form a defensive barrier against external infections and water loss. Disrupted barrier function underlies the most severe and often lethal form of recessive congenital ichthyosis, harlequin ichthyosis (HI). HI is associated with mutations in the gene that encodes the ABC transporter protein, ABCA12. We have investigated the morphological and biochemical alterations associated with abnormal epidermal differentiation and barrier formation in HI epidermis. An in vitro model of HI skin using human keratinocytes retrovirally transduced with shRNA targeting ABCA12 in a three-dimensional, organotypic co-culture (OTCC) system has also been developed. A robust reduction in ABCA12 expression had a dramatic effect on keratinocyte differentiation and morphology comparable with that observed in HI skin, including a thicker epidermis and abnormal lipid content with a reduction in nonpolar lipids. As seen in HI epidermis, proteins that are normally expressed in late differentiation were highly dysregulated in the ABCA12-ablated OTCC system. These proteins were expressed in the stratum basale and also in the stratum spinosum, indicative of a premature terminal differentiation phenotype. Expression of the proteases kallikrein 5 and cathepsin D was dramatically reduced in both HI epidermis and the OTCC model. These data suggest that ABCA12 is a key molecule in regulating keratinocyte differentiation and transporting specific proteases associated with desquamation.
American Journal Of Pathology 02/2009; 174(3):970-8. DOI:10.2353/ajpath.2009.080860 · 4.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large proportion of recessive nonsyndromic hearing loss is due to mutations in the GJB2 gene encoding connexin 26 (Cx26), a component of a gap junction. Within different ethnic groups there are specific common recessive mutations, each with a relatively high carrier frequency, suggesting the possibility of heterozygous advantage. Carriers of the R143W GJB2 allele, the most prevalent in the African population, present with a thicker epidermis than noncarriers. In this study, we show that (R143W)Cx26-expressing keratinocytes form a significantly thicker epidermis in an organotypic coculture skin model. In addition, we show increased migration of cells expressing (R143W)Cx26 compared to (WT)Cx26-overexpressing cells. We also demonstrate that cells expressing (R143W)Cx26 are significantly less susceptible to cellular invasion by the enteric pathogen Shigella flexneri than (WT)Cx26-expressing cells. These in vitro studies suggest an advantageous effect of (R143W)Cx26 in epithelial cells.