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Exp Cell Res. 1994 Apr;211(2):391-9.

Identification of the ubiquitous human desmoglein, Dsg2, and the expression catalogue of the desmoglein subfamily of desmosomal cadherins.

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Division of Cell Biology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg.


Desmosomes are junctions between epithelial, myocardiac, and certain other kinds of cells. They represent plasma membrane domains enriched in specific transmembrane glycoproteins, notably desmoglein (Dsg) and desmocollin (Dsc), both of which have recently been identified as members of the larger family of Ca(2+)-dependent cell adhesion molecules, the cadherins. Previously described forms of desmoglein have been isolated as proteins and cloned as cDNAs from epidermis and related stratified epithelia but have not been detected in the majority of other desmosome-containing tissues and cell culture lines. Here we present the complete cDNA-derived amino acid (aa) sequence of a different desmoglein polypeptide, termed Dsg2 (1069 aa, mol wt 116,760) and its precursor molecule (1117 aa, mol wt 122,384), which occurs in all human and bovine desmosome-producing tissues, tumors, and cell lines examined, epithelial as well as nonepithelial ones. We conclude that Dsg2, the largest molecule in this protein family, is the fundamental desmoglein common to all desmosome-possessing tissues, including simple epithelia and myocardium, and many cell cultures. Furthermore, in several tissues and cell lines Dsg2 is the only Dsg isoform detected so far. By contrast, the epidermal isoforms Dsg1 and Dsg3 are restricted to certain specialized epithelia, mostly stratified squamous ones. The importance of the junction-specific cadherin Dsg2 in tissue formation and carcinogenesis as well as in the development of autoimmune diseases of the Pemphigus type is discussed. In addition, we propose to use Dsg2 as a general marker common to all epithelial cells and tumors and to use the specific pattern of occurrence of Dsg and Dsc isoforms as an additional criterion for cell typing in tumor diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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