Desmogleins are members of the cadherin superfamily which form the core of desmosomes. In vitro studies indicate that the cytoplasmic domain of desmogleins associates with plakoglobin; however, little is known about the role of this domain in desmosome recognition or assembly in vivo, or about the possible relation of desmoglein mutations to epidermal differentiation and disease. To address these questions we used transgenic mouse technology to produce an NH2-terminally truncated desmoglein (Pemphigus Vulgaris Antigen or Dsg3) in cells known to express its wild-type counterpart. Within 2 d, newborn transgenic animals displayed swelling of their paws, flakiness on their back, and blackening of the tail tip. When analyzed histologically and ultrastructurally, widening of intercellular spaces and disruption of desmosomes were especially striking in the paws and tail. Desmosomes were reduced dramatically in number and were smaller and often peculiar in structure. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy revealed no major abnormalities in localization of hemidesmosomal components, but desmosomal components organized aberrantly, resulting in a loss of ultrastructure within the plaque. In regions where desmosome loss was prevalent but where some adhesive structures persisted, the epidermis was thickened, with a marked increase in spinous and stratum corneum layers, variability in granular layer thickness, and parakeratosis in some regions. Intriguingly, a dramatic increase in cell proliferation was also observed concomitant with biochemical changes, including alterations in integrin expression, known to be associated with hyperproliferation. An inflammatory response was also detected in some skin regions. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that a mutation in a desmoglein can perturb epidermal cell-cell adhesion, triggering a cascade of changes in the skin.
Mice expressing a mutant desmosomal cadherin exhibit abnormalities in desmosomes, proliferation, and epidermal differentiation.
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E Allen, Q C Yu, E Fuchs; Mice expressing a mutant desmosomal cadherin exhibit abnormalities in desmosomes, proliferation, and epidermal differentiation.. J Cell Biol 15 June 1996; 133 (6): 1367–1382. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.133.6.1367
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