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J Invest Dermatol. 1996 Feb;106(2):327-34.

Genetic analysis of a severe case of Dowling-Meara epidermolysis bullosa simplex.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


The epidermis serves an important protective function, which it manifests by producing an extensive cytoskeletal architecture, the unique feature of which are keratin filaments. Through studies that began with epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) and now extend to a group of autosomal dominant human blistering skin disorders it was discovered that defects in the keratin genes lead to cell fragility and degeneration upon mechanical trauma. In most cases of EBS, point mutations occur in the keratin 5 (K5) and K14 genes expressed in the basal layer of the epidermis. The precise location of the mutation and the degree to which it causes perturbations in filament assembly correlate with disease severity. In the present study, we examine a case of EBS, which clinically lies at the severe end of the spectrum of Dowling-Meara EBS and which shows keratin filament clumping in suprabasal as well as basal cells. We show that one of the two K14 alleles has a single point substitution, giving rise to a Y129D mutation. This mutation resides 4 residues internal to the R125C/H hotspot known to account for the majority of Dowling-Meara cases. We provide functional and structural evidence to suggest why the Y129D mutation may be capable of creating such a severe form of EBS.

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