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J Invest Dermatol. 1996 Feb;106(2):294-304.

Sequence and expression patterns of mouse SPR1: Correlation of expression with epithelial function.

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Department of Cancer Cell Research, University of Tokyo, Showa University School of Dentistry, Japan.


A final event in the terminal differentiation of stratified squamous epithelia is the formation of a cornified cell envelope, which is a complex of several proteins cross-linked together by transglutaminases. One set of proteins is the family of small proline rich (SPR) proteins. In human foreskin epidermal cell envelopes, SPRs serve as cross-bridging proteins among the more abundant loricrin. In order to study further their evolution and expression, we have isolated and sequenced cDNAs encoding two mouse SPR1 proteins, SPR1a and SPR1b Comparative sequence analysis showed the preservation of the overall structure of mammalian SPR1 proteins with highly conserved termini and a central peptide domain repeated 13 (SPE1a) or seven (SPR1b) times. Tissues obtained from mouse fetal, newborn, and adult skin were tested by Northern blot analyses, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry using an antibody raised to a synthetic peptide corresponding to the C terminus of the SPR1a protein. Skin expression was first detected in fetal periderm in anagen hair follicles of newborn and older mice, and in the thickened epidermis of the lip and footpad, but no signal was detected in interfollicular trunk epidermis. High levels of SPR1a expression were found in epithelia from the forestomach and penis, and in benign squamous papillomas. Other epithelia expressing SPR1a include the tongue, esophagus, and vagina. Whenever detected, SPR1a positive staining was present in the spinous and granular layers. In the forestomach and papillomas, the periphery of cells in the cornified layer was also stained. Our results suggest that SPR1a participates widely in the construction of cell envelopes in cornifying epithelia characterized by either increased thickness or a requirement for extreme flexibility. Based on its likely function as a cross-bridging protein in cell envelopes, we conclude that the mechanical attributes of cell envelopes may be determined in part by the SPR1 content, in accordance with the specific function of the epithelium.

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