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Exp Dermatol. 2002 Apr;11(2):107-14.

Genotype-phenotype correlation in skin fragility-ectodermal dysplasia syndrome resulting from mutations in plakophilin 1.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Pathology, St John's Institute of Dermatology, Guy's, King's College and St Thomas' Hospitals' Medical School, St Thomas's Hospital, London, UK.


We report a 42-year-old Japanese man with an unusual autosomal recessive genodermatosis. The clinical features comprised normal skin at birth, loss of scalp hair at 3-months of age after a febrile illness, progressive nail dystrophy during infancy, palmoplantar keratoderma starting around the age of 18 years and trauma-induced skin fragility and blisters noted from the age of 20 years. Skin biopsy of rubbed non-lesional skin revealed widening of spaces between adjacent keratinocytes from the suprabasal layer upwards. Electron microscopy demonstrated a reduced number of hypoplastic desmosomes. Immunohistochemical labeling showed a reduction in intercellular staining for the desmosome component plakophilin 1. Mutation analysis revealed a homozygous intron 11 donor splice site mutation in the plakophilin 1 gene, 2021+1 G>A (GenBank no. Z34974). RT-PCR, using RNA extracted from the skin biopsy, provided evidence for residual low levels of the full-length wild-type transcript (approximately 8%) as well as multiple other near full-length transcripts, one of which was in frame leading to deletion of 17 amino acids from the 9th arm-repeat unit of the plakophilin 1 tail domain. Thus, the molecular findings help explain the clinical features in the patient, who has a similar but milder phenotype to previously reported patients with skin fragility-ectodermal dysplasia syndrome associated with complete ablation of plakophilin 1 (OMIM 604536). This new 'mitis' phenotype provides further clinicopathological evidence for the role of plakophilin 1 in keratinocyte cell-cell adhesion and ectodermal development.

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