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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jul 19;271(29):17504-11.

Cloning of the gene for human pemphigus vulgaris antigen (desmoglein 3), a desmosomal cadherin. Characterization of the promoter region and identification of a keratinocyte-specific cis-element.

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Department of Dermatology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107, USA.


Pemphigus vulgaris antigen is a cadherin-like desmosomal cell adhesion molecule expressed primarily in suprabasal keratinocytes within the epidermis. Previously characterized structural features have defined this molecule as a desmoglein, DSG3. In this study, we have cloned the human DSG3 gene and examined the transcriptional regulation of its expression. The total gene consisted of 15 exons and was estimated to span >23 kilobases. Comparison of exon-intron organization of DSG3 with bovine DSG1 and several classical cadherin genes revealed striking conservation of the structure. Up to 2.8 kilobases of the upstream genomic sequences were sequenced and found to contain several putative cis-regulatory elements. The promoter region was GC-rich and TATA-less, similar to previously characterized mammalian cadherin promoters. The putative promoter region was subcloned into a vector containing chloramphenicol acetyl transferase reporter gene. Transient transfections with a series of deletion clones indicated that the DSG3 promoter demonstrated keratinocyte-specific expression, as compared with dermal fibroblasts examined in parallel, and fine mapping identified a 30-base pair segment at -200 to -170 capable of conferring epidermal specific expression. The results provide evidence for the transcriptional regulation of the pemphigus vulgaris antigen gene, potentially critical for development of the epidermis and physiologic terminal differentiation of keratinocytes.

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