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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7400-5.

Tissue-specific knockout of the mouse Pig-a gene reveals important roles for GPI-anchored proteins in skin development.

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Department of Dermatology, Osaka University Medical School, 2-2 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565, Japan.


Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins are widely distributed on plasma membranes of eukaryotes. More than 50 GPI-anchored proteins have been shown to be spatiotemporally expressed in mice with a deficiency of GPI-anchor biosynthesis that causes embryonic lethality. Here, we examine the functional roles of GPI-anchored proteins in mouse skin using the Cre-loxP recombination system. We disrupted the Pig-a gene, an X-linked gene essential for GPI-anchor biosynthesis, in skin. The Cre-mediated Pig-a disruption occurred in skin at almost 100% efficiency in male mice bearing two identically orientated loxP sites within the Pig-a gene. Expression of GPI-anchored proteins was completely absent in the skin of these mice. The skin of such mutants looked wrinkled and more scaly than that of wild-type mice. Furthermore, histological examination of mutant mice showed that the epidermal horny layer was tightly packed and thickened. Electron microscopy showed that the intercellular space was narrow and there were many small vesicles embedded in the intercellular space that were not observed in equivalent wild-type mouse skin preparations. Mutant mice died within a few days after birth, suggesting that Pig-a function is essential for proper skin differentiation and maintenance.

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