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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Feb;48(2):244-52.

Desmoglein as a target in autoimmunity and infection.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, USA.


Clinical phenotypes of most diseases are complex. However, once the mechanism behind the scene is clarified, the nature shows amazing beauty. There is a simple logic behind a complex disease. The exact molecular mechanism of the blister formation in staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) remained to be elucidated for 3 decades since exfoliative toxin was discovered by Melish and Glasgow in 1970. A knowledge accumulated to understand the pathogenesis of pemphigus and cell-cell adhesion of keratinocytes led us to solve this question. Desmoglein 1, which is a cadherin type cell-cell adhesion molecule in desmosomes, is targeted in two different skin diseases, pemphigus foliaceus, and SSSS. In pemphigus foliaceus IgG autoantibodies are developed against desmoglein 1 and inhibit its adhesive function with resultant blister formation in the superficial epidermis. In SSSS, exfoliative toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus specifically binds and cleaves desmoglein 1 with resultant blister formation at the identical site.

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