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Am J Hum Genet. 1995 Mar;56(3):577-85.

Epidermolysis bullosa simplex: a keratin 5 mutation is a fully dominant allele in epidermal cytoskeleton function.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


To explore the relationship between abnormal keratin molecules, 10-nm intermediate filament (IF) organization, and epidermal fragility and blistering, we sought to determine the functional consequences of homozygosity for a dominant keratin defect. We describe a family with an autosomal dominant skin-blistering disorder, epidermolysis bullosa simplex, Koebner subtype (EBS-K), that has a novel point mutation, occurring in the keratin 5 gene (KRT5), that predicts the substitution of an evolutionarily conserved lysine by an asparagine residue (K173N). Unlike previous heterozygous mutations located within the initial segment of domain 1A of keratin molecules, K173N heterozygosity did not result in severe disease or clumping of keratin filaments. One family member was found to be homozygous for the K173N allele, having inherited it from each of her affected first-cousin parents. Despite a lack of normal keratin 5 molecules, and an effective doubling of abnormal molecules, available for heterodimerization with keratin 14 during IF formation, there were no significant differences in the clinical severity or the ultrastructural organization of the keratin IF cytoskeleton of the homozygous individual. These data demonstrate that the K173N mutation behaves as a fully dominant allele and indicate that a limited number of abnormal keratin molecules are sufficient to impair cytoskeletal function and elicit epidermal fragility and blistering.

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